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WILLIAM MORRIS 



Copyright, 1928 

By 

The Roycrofters 
(All Rights Reserved) 



Manufactured in U. S. A. 



CONTENTS 

WILLIAM MORRIS . . . . . 9 

ROBERT BROWNING .... 37 

ALFRED TENNYSON . . . . . . 67 

ROBERT BURNS ..... 91 

JOHN MILTON ...... 117 

SAMUEL JOHNSON . . . . .143 

THOMAS B. MACAULAY . . . . 171 

LORD BYRON 199 

JOSEPH ADDISON . . . . . . . 233 

ROBERT SOUTHEY . . . . . 263 

SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE . . . . 287 

BENJAMIN DISRAELI . . . . 317 




i:o the tomes 
of 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



THE IDLE SINGER 

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing, 
I can not ease the burden of your fears, 
Or make quick-coming death a little thing, 
Or bring again the pleasure of past years, 
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears, 
Or hope again for aught that I can say, 
The idle singer of an empty day. 

But rather, when aweary of your mirth, 

From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh, 

And feeling kindly unto all the earth, 

Grudge every minute as it passes by. 

Made the more mindful that the sweet days die, 

Remember me a little then, I pray, 

The idle singer of an empty day. 

$***$*#** 

Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time, 
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight? 7 
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme 
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate, 
Telling a tale not too importunate 
To those who in the sleepy region stay, 
Lulled by the singer of an empty day. 

From " The Earthly Paradise ' 



WILLIAM MORRIS 




HE parents of William Morris were 
well-to-do people who lived in the 
village of Walthamstow, Essex. 
The father was a London bill-broker, 
cool-headed, calculating, practical. 
In the home of his parents William 
Morris received small impulse in 
the direction of art; he, however, 
was taught how to make both ends meet, and there 
were drilled into his character many good lessons of 
plain commonsense a rather unusual equipment for a 
poet, but still one that should not be waived or con- 
sidered lightly. At the village school William was 
neither precocious nor dull, neither black nor white: 
his cosmos being simply a sort of slaty-gray, a condition 
of being which attracted no special attention from either 
his schoolfellows or his tutors. From the village school 
he went to Marlborough Academy, where by patient 
grubbing he fitted himself for Exeter College, Oxford. 
<I Morris, the elder, proved his good sense by taking no 
very special interest in the boy's education. Violence 
of direction in education falls flat: man is a lonely 
creature, and has to work out his career in his own way. 
To help the grub spin its cocoon is quite unnecessary, 
and to play the part of Mrs. Gamp with the butterfly 
in its chrysalis stage is to place a quietus upon its career. 

11 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



The whole science of modern education is calculated to 
turn out a good, fairish, commonplace article; but the 
formula for a genius remains a secret with Deity. The 
great man becomes great in spite of teachers and parents ; 
and his near kinsmen, being color-blind, usually pooh- 
pooh the idea that he is anything more than mediocre S 
At Oxford, William Morris fell in with a young mar 
of about his own age, by the name of Edward Burne- 
Jones. Burne- Jones was studying theology. He was 
slender in stature, dreamy, spiritual, poetic. Morris was 
a giant in strength, blunt in speech, bold in manner, 
and had a shock of hair like a lion's mane. This was 
in the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-three these young 
men being nineteen years of age. The slender, yellow, 
dreamy student of theology and the ruddy athlete 
became fast friends. 

" Send your sons to college and the boys will educate 
them," said Emerson. These boys read poetry together; 
and it seems the first author that specially attracted 
them was Mrs. Browning; and she attracted them 
dimply because she had recently eloped with the man she 
loved. This fact proved to Morris that she was a worthy 
woman and a discerning. She had the courage of her 
convictions. To elope with a poor poet, leaving a rich 
father and a luxurious home what nobler ambition? 
Burne- Jones, student of theology, considered her 
action proof of depravity. Morris, in order to show his 
friend that Mrs. Browning was really a rare and gentfe 
12 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



soul, read aloud to Burne- Jones from her books. Morris 
himself had never read much of Mrs. Browning's work, 
but in championing her cause and interesting his friend 
in her, he grew interested himself. Like lawyers, we 
undertake a cause first and look for proof later. In 
teaching another, Morris taught himself. By explaining 
a theme it becomes luminous to us. 
In passing, it is well to note that this impulse in the 
heart of William Morris to come to the defense of an 
accused person was ever very strong. His defense of 
Mrs. Browning led straight to " The Defense of Guin- 
evere/* begun while at Oxford and printed in book 
form in his twenty-fourth year. Not that the offenses 
of Guinevere and Elizabeth Barrett were parallel, but 
Morris was by nature a defender of women. And it 
should further be noted that Tennyson had not yet 
written his " Idylls of the King," at the time Morris 
wrote his poetic brief. 

Another author that these young men took up at this 
time was Ruskin. John Ruskin was fifteen years older 
than Morris an Oxford man, too; also, the son of a 
merchant and rich by inheritance. Ruskin's natural 
independence, his ability for original thinking and his 
action in embracing the cause of Turner, the ridiculed, 
won, die heart of Morris. In Ruskin he found a writer 
wk> expressed the thoughts that he believed. He read 
Ruskin, and insisted that Burne- Jones should. Together 
they read "The Nature of Gothic/' and then they 

13 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



went out upon the streets of Oxford and studied 
examples at first hand. They compared the old with the 
new, and came to the conclusion that the buildings 
erected two centuries before had various points to 
recommend them which modern buildings have not. 
The modern buildings were built by contractors, while 
the old ones were constructed by men who had all the 
time there was, and so they worked out their con- 
ceptions of the eternal fitness of things. 
Then these young men, with several others, drew up 
a remonstrance against " the desecration by officious 
restoration, and the tearing down of time-mellowed 
structures to make room for the unsightly brick piles 
of boarding-house keepers/' 

The remonstrance was sent in to the authorities, and 
by them duly pigeonholed, with a passing remark that 
young fellows sent to Oxford to be educated had better 
attend tc their books and mind their own business. 
Having espoused the cause of the Middle Ages in archi- 
tecture, these young men began to study the history 
of the people who lived in the olden time. They read 
Spenser and Chaucer, and chance threw in their way a 
dog-eared copy of Mallory's " Morte d* Arthur/* and 
this was still more dog-eared when they were through 
with it. Probably no book ever made more of an 
impression on Morris than this one; and if he had 
written an article for the " Ladies' Home Journal " on 
" Books That Influenced Me Most/' he would have 
14 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



placed Mallory's " Morte d' Arthur " first. 
influence of Burne- Jones on Morris was marked, and 
the influence of Morris on Burne- Jones was profound. 
Morris discovered himself in explaining things to 
Burne- Jones, and Burne- Jones, without knowing it, 
adopted the opinions of Morris; and it was owing to 
Morris that he gave up theology. 

Having abandoned the object that led him to college, 
Burne- Jones lost faith in Oxford, and went down to 
London to study art. 

Morris hung on, secured his B. A., and articled himself 
to a local architect with the firm intent of stopping the 
insane drift for modern mediocrity, and bringing about 
a just regard for the stately dignity of the Gothic. 
A few months' experience, however, and he discovered 
that an apprentice to an architect was not expected to 
furnish plans or even criticize those already made: his 
business was to make detail drawings from completed 
designs for the contractors to work from. 
A year at architecture, with odd hours filled in at poetry 
and art, and news came from Burne- Jones that he had 
painted a picture, and sold it for ten pounds. 
Now Morris had all the money he needed. His father's 
prosperity was at flood, and he had but to hint for funds 
and they came; yet to make things with your own 
hands and sell them was the true test of success. 
He had written " Gertha's Lovers/' " The Tale of the 
Hollow Land/* and various poems and essays for the 

15 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



college magazine; and his book, " The Defense of Guin- 
evere/* had been issued at his own expense, and the 
edition was on his hands a weary weight. 
Thoreau wrote to his friends, when the house burned 
and destroyed all copies of his first book, " The edition 
is exhausted," but no such happiness came to Morris. 
And so when glad tidings of an artistic success came 
from Burne- Jones, he resolved to follow the lead and 
abandon architecture for " pure art/' 
Arriving in London he placed himself under the tutor- 
ship of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet, dreamer and artist, 
six years his senior, whom he had known for some 
time, and who had also instructed Burne- Jones. 
While taking lessons in painting at the rather shabby 
house of Rossetti in Portland Street, he was introduced 
to Rossetti's favorite model a young woman of rare 
grace and beauty. Rossetti had painted her picture 
as " The Blessed Damozel/' leaning over the bar of 
Heaven, while the stars in her hair were seven. Morris, 
the impressionable, fell in love with the canvas and 
then with the woman. 

When they were married, tradition has it that Ros- 
setti withheld his blessing and sought to drown his 
sorrow in fomentations, with dark, dank hints in bari- 
tone to the effect that the Thames only could appre- 
ciate his grief* 

But grief is transient; and for many years Dante Ros- 
setti and Burne- Jones pictured the tall, willowy figure of 
16 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



Mrs. Morris as the dream-woman, on tapestry and can- 
vas; and as the "Blessed Virgin," her beautiful face 
and form are shown in many sacred places. 
Truth need not be distorted in a frantic attempt to 
make this an ideal marriage only a woman with the 
intellect of Minerva could have filled the restless heart 
of William Morris. But the wife of Morris believed in 
her lord, and never sought to hamper him; and if she 
failed at times to comprehend his genius, it was only 
because she was human. 

Whistler once remarked that without Mrs. Morris to 
supply stained-glass attitudes and the lissome beauty 
of an angel, the Preraphaelites would have long since 
gone down to dust and forgetfulness. 



17 



WILLIAM MORRIS 




HE year which William Morris spent at archi- 
tecture, he considered as nearly a waste of 
time, but it was not so in fact. As a drafts- 
man he had developed a marvelous skill, 
and the grace and sureness of his lines were a delight 
to Burne- Jones, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Ford Madox 
Brown and others of the little artistic circle in which 
he found himself 53 Youth lays great plans; youth is 
always in revolt against the present order; youth 
groups itself in bands and swears eternal fealty ; and life, 
which is change, dissipates the plans, subdues the revolt 
into conformity, and the sworn friendships fade away 
into dull indifference* Always? Well, no, not exactly S& 
In this instance the plans and dreams found form; the 
revolt was a revolution that succeeded; and the brother- 
hood existed for near fifty years, and then was severed 
only by death. 

Without going into a history of the Preraphaelite 
Brotherhood, it will be noted that the band of enthu- 
siasts in art, literature and architecture had been 
swung by the arguments and personality of William 
Morris into the strong current of his own belief, and 
this was that Art and Life in the Middle Ages were 
much lovelier things than they are now. 
That being so, we should go back to medieval times 
for our patterns 33 A study of the best household 
decorations of the Fifteenth Century showed that all 
the furniture used then was made to fit a certain 
18 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



apartment, and with a definite purpose in view 53 Of 
course it was made by hand, and the loving marks of 
the tool were upon it. It was made as good and strong 
and durable as it could be made. Floors and walls were 
of mosaic or polished wood, and these were partly 
covered by beautifully woven rugs, skins and tapes- 
tries. The ceilings were sometimes ornamented with 
pictures painted in harmony with the use for which 
the room was designed. Certainly there were no chromos 
and the pictures were few and these of the best, for the 
age was essentially a critical one. 

A modest circular was issued in which the fact was 
made known that " a company of historical artists will 
use their talents in home decoration/* 
Dealers into whose hands this circular fell, smiled in 
derision, and the announcement made no splash in 
England's artistic waters. But the leaven was at work 
which was bound to cause a revolution in the tastes 
of fifty million people. 

Most of our best moves are accidents, and every jgood 
thing begins as something else. In the beginning there 
was no expectation of building up a trade or making a 
financial success of the business. The idea was simply 
that the eight young men who composed the band 
were to use their influence in helping one another to 
secure commissions, and corroborate the views of 
doubting patrons as to what was art and what not. In 
other words, they were to stand by one another 33 

19 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Burne- 
Jones and Arthur Hughes were painters; Philip Webb 
an architect; Peter Paul Marshall a landscape-gardener 
and engineer; Charles Joseph Faulkner, an Oxford 
don, was a designer, and William Morris was an all- 
round artist ready to turn his hand to anything. 
These men undertook to furnish a home from garret 
to cellar in an artistic way. 

Work came, and each set himself to help all the others, 
From simply supplying designs for furniture, rugs, car- 
pets and wall-paper they began to manufacture these 
things, simply because they could not buy or get others 
to make the things they desired. 

Morris undertook the entire executive charge of affairs, 
and mastered the details of half a dozen trades in 
order that he might intelligently conduct the business. 
The one motto of the firm was, '* Not how cheap, but 
how good/' They insisted that housekeeping must be 
simplified, and that we should have fewer things and 
have them better. To this end single pieces of furniture 
were made, and all sets of furniture discarded* I have 
seen several houses furnished entirely by William 
Morris, and the first thing that impressed me was the 
sparsity of things. Instead of a dozen pictures in a room, 
there were two or three one on an easel and one or two 
on the walls. Gilt frames were abandoned almost 
entirely, and dark-stained woods were used instead* 
Wide fireplaces were introduced and mantels of solid 
20 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



oak. For upholstery, leather covering was commonly 
used instead of cloth. Carpets were laid in strips, not 
tacked down to stay, and rugs were laid so as to show a 
goodly glimpse of hardwood floor; and in the dining- 
room a large, round table was placed instead of a right- 
angled square one. This table was not covered with a 
tablecloth; instead, mats and doilies were used here and 
there. To cover a table entirely with a cloth or spread 
was pretty good proof that the piece of furniture was 
cheap and shabby; so in no William Morris library or 
dining-room would you find a table entirely covered. 
The round dining-table is in very general use now, but 
few people realize how its plainness was scouted when 
William Morris first introduced it. 
One piece of William Morris furniture has become 
decidedly popular in America, and that is the " Morris 
Chair/* The first chair of this pattern was made entirely 
by the hands of the master. It was built by a man 
who understood anatomy, unlike most chairs and all 
church pews. It was also strong, durable, ornamental, 
and by a simple device the back could be adjusted so 
as to fit a man's every mood. 

There has been a sad degeneracy among William 
Morris chairs; still, good ones can be obtained, nearly 
as excellent as the one in which I rested at Kelmscott 
House broad, deep, massive, upholstered with curled 
hair, and covered with leather that would delight a 
bookbinder. Such a chair can be used a generation and 

21 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



then passed on to the heirs, ^f Furnishing of churches 
and chapels led naturally to the making of stained- 
glass windows, and hardly a large city of Christendom 
but has an example of the Morris work. 
Morris managed to hold that erratic genius, Dante 
Gabriel Rossetti, in line and direct his efforts, which 
of itself was a feat worthy of record. He made a for- 
tune for Rossetti, who was a child in this world's affairs, 
and he also made a fortune for himself and every man 
connected with the concern. 

Burne- Jones stood by the ship manfully, and proved 
his good sense by never interfering with the master's 
plans, or asking foolish, quibbling questions showing 
faith on all occasions. 

The Morris designs for wall-paper, tapestry, cretonnes 
and carpets are now the property of the world, but to 
say just which is a William Morris design and which 
a Burne- Jones is an impossibility, for these two strong 
men worked together as one being with two heads and 
four hands. At one time, I find the firm of Morris and 
Company had three thousand hands at work in its 
various manufactories, the work in most instances being 
done by hand after the manner of the olden time. 
William Morris was an avowed socialist long before 
so many men began to grow jtond of calling themselves 
Christian Socialists. Morris was too practical not to 
know that the time is not ripe for life on a communal 
basis, but in his heart was a high and holy ideal that 
22 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



he has partially explained in his books, ** A Dream of 
John Ball " and " News From Nowhere/* and more 
fully in many lectures. His sympathy was ever with 
the workingman and those who grind fordone at the 
wheel of labor. To better the condition of the toiler 
was his sincere desire. But socialism to him was more 
of an emotion than a well-worked-out plan of life. He 
believed that men should replace competition by 
Co-operation. He used to say: " I 'm going your way, so 
let us go hand in hand. You help me and I '11 help you. 
We shall not be here very long, for soon, Death, the 
kind old nurse, will come and rock us all to sleep let 
us help one another while we may/* And that is about 
the extent of the socialism of William Morris. 
There is one criticism that has been constantly brought 
against Morris, and although he answered this criti- 
cism a thousand times during his life, it still springs 
fresh put forth by little men who congratulate them- 
selves on having scored a point. 

They ask in orotund, " How could William Morris 
expect to benefit society at large, when all of the 
products he manufactured were so high in price that 
only the rich could buy them? ** 

Socialism, according to William Morris, does not con- 
sider it desirable to supply cheap stuff to anybody. The 
socialist aims to make every manufactured article of 
the best quality possible. It is not how cheap can this 
be made, but how good. Make it as excellent as it can 

23 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



be made to serve its end. Then sell it at a price that 
affords something more than a bare subsistence to the 
workmen who put their lives into its making. In 
this way you raise the status of the worker you pay 
him for his labor and give him an interest and pride in 
the product. Cheap products make cheap men- The first 
thought of socialism is for the worker who makes the 
thing, not the man who buys it. 
Work is for the worker. 

What becomes of the product of your work, and how 
the world receives it, matters little. But how you do 
it is everything. We are what we are on account of 
the thoughts we have thought and the things we have 
done. As a muscle grows strong only through use, so 
does every attribute of the mind, and every quality of 
the soul take on new strength through exercise. And 
on the other hand, as a muscle not used atrophies and 
dies, so will the faculties of the spirit die through disuse. 
<I Thus we see why it is very necessary that we should 
exercise our highest and best. We are making charac- 
ter, building soul-fiber; and no rotten threads must 
be woven into this web of life. If you write a paper 
for a learned society, you are the man who gets the 
benefit of that paper the society may. If you are a 
preacher and prepare your sermons with care, you are 
the man who receives the uplift and as to the con- 
gregation, it is all very doubtfuL 
Work is for the worker* 
24 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



We are all working out our own salvation. And thus 
do we see how it is very plain that John Ruskin was 
right when he said that the man who makes the thing 
is of far more importance than the man who buys it. 
Work is for the worker* 

Can you afford to do slipshod, evasive, hypocritical 
work? Can you afford to shirk, or make-believe or 
practise pretense in any act of life> No, no; for all the 
time you are molding yourself into a deformity, and 
drifting away from the Divine. What the world does 
and says about you is really no matter, but what you 
think and what you do are questions vital as Fate. No 
one can harm you but yourself. Work is for the worker. 
And so I will answer the questions of the critics as 
to how society has been benefited by, say, a William 
Morris book: 

1. The workmen who made it found a pride and satis- 
faction in their work. 

2. They received a goodly reward in cash for their time 
and efforts. 

3. The buyers were pleased with their purchase, and 
received a decided satisfaction in its possession, 

4. Readers of the book were gratified to see their author 
clothed in such fitting and harmonious dress. 

5. Reading the text has instructed some, and possibly 
inspired a few to nobler thinking. <I After " The Defense 
of Guinevere " was published, it was thirteen years 
before Morris issued another volume. His days had been 

25 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



given to art and the work of management. But now the 
business had gotten on to such a firm basis that he 
turned the immediate supervision over to others, and 
took two days of the week, Saturday and Sunday, for 
literature SA 53 

Taking up the active work of literature when thirty- 
mine years of age, he followed it with the zest of 
youth for over twenty years until death claimed him. 
William Morris thought literature should be the prod- 
uct of the ripened mind the mind that knows the 
world of men and which has grappled with earth's 
problems. He also considered that letters should not 
be a profession in itself to make a business of an art 
is to degrade it. Literature should be the spontaneous 
output of the mind that has known and felt. To work 
the mine of spirit as a business and sift its product 
for hire, is to overwork the vein and palm off slag for 
sterling metal. Shakespeare was a theater-manager, 
Milton a secretary, Bobby Burns a farmer, Lamb a 
bookkeeper, Wordsworth a government employee, 
Emerson a lecturer, Hawthorne a custom-house in- 
spector, and Whitman a clerk. William Morris was a 
workingman and a manufacturer, and would have been 
Poet Laureate of England had he been willing to call 
himself a student of sociology instead of a socialist* 
Socialism itself (whatever it may be) is not offensive 
the word is. 



26 



WILLIAM MORRIS 




]HE great American Apostle of Negation ex- 
pressed, once upon a day, a regret that he 
had not been consulted when the Universe 
was being planned, otherwise he would have ar- 
ranged to make good things catching instead of bad. 
The remark tokened a slight lesion in the logic of the 
Apostle, for good things are now, and ever have been, 
infectious. 

Once upon a day, I met a young man who told me 
that he was exposed at Kelmscott House for a brief 
hour, and caught it, and ever after there were in his 
mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions and ideals that had 
not been there before. Possibly the psychologist would 
explain that the spores of all these things were simply 
sleeping, awaiting the warmth and sunshine of some 
peculiar presence to start them into being; but of that 
I can not speak this only I know, that the young man 
said to me, " Whereas I was once blind, I now see/' 
<I William Morris was a giant in physical strength and 
a giant in intellect. His nature was intensely masculine, 
in that he could plan and act without thought of 
precedent. Never was a man more emancipated from 
the trammels of convention and custom than William 
Morris. <I Kelmscott House at Hammersmith is in an 
ebbtide district where once wealth and fashion held 
sway; but now the vicinity is given over to factories, 
tenement-houses and all that train of evil and vice that 
follows in the wake of faded gentility. 

27 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



At Hammersmith you will see spacious old mansions 
used as warehouses; others as boarding-houses; still 
others converted into dance-halls with beer-gardens 
in the rear, where once bloomed and blossomed milady's 
flowerbeds SS 3$ 

The broad stone steps and wide hallways and iron 
fences, with glimpses now and then of ancient door- 
plates or more ancient knockers, tell of generations 
lost in the maze of oblivion. 

Just why William Morris, the poet and lover of har- 
mony, should have selected this locality for a home is 
quite beyond the average ken. Certainly it mystified 
the fashionable literary world of London, with whom 
he never kept goose-step, but that still kept track of 
him for fashion has a way of patronizing genius and 
some of his old friends wrote him asking where Ham- 
mersmith was, and others expressed doubts as to its 
existence, I had no difficulty in taking the right train 
for Hammersmith, but once there no one seemed to 
have ever heard of the Kelmscott Press. When I 
inquired, grave misgivings seemed to arise as to whether 
the press I referred to was a cider-press, a wine-press 
or a press for " cracklings/* 

Finally I discovered a man a workingman whose 
face beamed at the mention of William Morris. Later 
I found that if a man knew William Morris, his heart 
throbbed at the mention of his name, and he at once 
grew voluble and confidential and friendly. It was the 
28 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



" Open Sesame/* And if a person did not know William 
Morris, he simply did n't, and that was all there was 
about it. 

But the man I met knew " TV Ole Man," which was 
the affectionate title used by all the hundreds and 
thousands who worked with William Morris. And to 
prove that he knew him, when I asked that he should 
direct me to the Upper Mall, he simply insisted on going 
with me. Moreover, he told a needless lie and declared 
he was on the way there, although when we met he was 
headed in the other direction. By a devious walk of 
half a mile we reached the high iron fence of Kelm- 
scott House. We arrived amid a florid description of the 
Icelandic Sagas as told by my new-found friend and in- 
terpreted by Th' Ole Man. My friend had not read 
the Sagas, but still he did not hesitate to recommend 
them; and so we passed through the wide-open gates 
and up the stone walk to the entrance of Kelmscott 
House. On the threshold we met F. S. Ellis and Emery 
Walker, who addressed my companion as '* Tom." 
I knew Mr. Ellis slightly, and also had met Mr. Walker, 
who works Rembrandt miracles with a camera Si 
Mr. Ellis was deep in seeing the famous " Chaucer ** 
through the press, and Mr. Walker had a print to show, 
so we turned aside, passed a great pile of paper in craves 
that cluttered the hallway, and entered the library. 
There, leaning over the long, oaken table, in shirt- 
sleeves, was the master. Who could mistake that great, 

29 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



shaggy head, the tangled beard, and frank, open-eyed 
look of boyish animation? 

The man was sixty and more, but there was no appear- 
ance of age in eye, complexion, form or gesture only 
the whitened hair! He greeted me as if we had always 
known each other, and Ellis and piles of Chaucer 
proof led straight to old Professor Child of Harvard, 
whose work Ellis criticized and Morris upheld. They 
fell into a hot argument, which was even continued as 
we walked across the street to the Doves Bindery 5$ 
The Doves Bindery, as all good men know, is managed 
by Mr* Cobden-Sanderson, who married one of the 
two daughters of Richard Cobden of Corn-Law fame* 
*fjust why Mr. Sanderson, the lawyer, should have 
borrowed his wife's maiden name and made it legally a 
part of his own, I do not know. Anyway, I quite like 
the idea of linking one's name with that of the woman 
one loves, especially when it has been so honored by 
the possessor as the name of Cobden. 
Cobden-Sanderson caught the rage for beauty from 
William Morris, and began to bind books for his own 
pleasure. Morris contended that any man who could bind 
books as beautifully as Cobden-Sanderson should not 
waste his time with law. Cobden-Sanderson talked 
it over with his wife, and she being a most sensible 
woman, agreed with William Morris S& So Cobden- 
Sanderson, acting on Th* Ole Man's suggestion, rented 
the quaint and curious mansion next door to the old 
30 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



house occupied by the Kelmscott Press, and went to 
work binding books. 

When we were once inside the Bindery, the Chau- 
cerian argument between Mr. Ellis and TV Ole Man 
shifted off into a wrangle with Cobden-Sanderson. I 
could not get the drift of it exactly it seemed to be 
the continuation of some former quarrel about an oak 
leaf or something. Anyway, Th' Ole Man silenced his 
opponent by smothering his batteries all of which 
will be better understood when I explain that TV Ole 
Man was large in stature, bluff, bold and strong-voiced, 
whereas Cobden-Sanderson is small, red-headed, meek, 
and wears bicycle-trousers. 

The argument, however, was not quite so serious an 
affair as I at first supposed, for it all ended in a laugh 
and easily ran off into a quiet debate as to the value 
of Imperial Japan versus Whatman. 
We walked through the various old parlors that now 
do duty as workrooms for bright-eyed girls, then over 
through the Kelmscott Press, and from this to another 
old mansion that had on its door a brass plate so pol- 
ished and repolished, like a machine-made sonnet too 
much gone over, that one can scarcely make out its 
intent. Finally I managed to trace the legend, *' The 
Seasons." I was told it was here that Thomson, the 
poet, wrote his book. Once back in the library of 
Kelmscott House, Mr. Ellis and Th' Ole Man leaned 
over the great oaken table and renewed, in a gentler 

31 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



key, the question as to whether Professor Child was 
justified in his construction of the Third Canto of the 
" Canterbury Tales/' Under cover of the smoke I 
quietly disappeared with Mr. Cockerill, the Secretary, 
for a better view of the Kelmscott Press. 
This was my first interview with William Morris. By 
chance I met him again, some days after, at the shop 
of Emery Walker in Clifford Court, Strand. I had been 
told on divers occasions by various persons that William 
Morris had no sympathy for American art and small 
respect for our literature. I am sure this was not wholly 
true, for on this occasion he told me he had read * ' Huckle- 
berry Finn/* and doted on "Uncle Remus/' He also 
spoke with affection and feeling of Walt Whitman, and 
told me that he had read every printed word that 
Emerson had written. And further he congratulated 
me on the success of my book, " Songs From Vaga- 
bondia/' 



WILLIAM MORRIS 




HE housekeeping world seems to have been 
in thrall to six haircloth chairs, a slippery 
sofa to match, and a very cold, marble-top 
center table, from the beginning of this cen- 
tury down to comparatively recent times. In all the best 
homes there was also a marble mantel to match the 
center table; on one end of this mantel was a blue glass 
vase containing a bouquet of paper roses, and on the 
other a plaster-of-Paris cat. Above the mantel hung a 
wreath of wax flowers in a glass case. In such houses 
were usually to be seen gaudy-colored carpets, imitation 
lace curtains, and a what-not in the corner that seemed 
ready to go into dissolution through the law of gravi- 
tation, ^f Early in the Seventies lithograph-presses began 
to make chromos that were warranted just as good as 
oil-paintings, and these were distributed in millions by 
enterprising newspapers as premiums for subscriptions. 
Looking over an old file of the " Christian Union " for 
the year Eighteen Hundred Seventy-one, I chanced 
upon an editorial wherein it was stated that the end of 
painting pictures by hand had come, and the writer 
piously thanked heaven for it and added, " Art is now 
within the reach of all/* Furniture, carpets, curtains, 
pictures and books were being manufactured by 
machinery, and to glue things together and give them a 
look of gentility and get them into a house before they 
fell apart, was the seeming desideratum of all manu- 
facturers 3$ 58 

33 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



The editor of the " Christian Union " surely had a 
basis of truth for his statement; art had received a 
sudden chill : palettes and brushes could be bought for 
half-price, and many artists were making five-year 
contracts with lithographers; while those too old to 
learn to draw on lithograph-stones saw nothing left 
for them but to work designs with worsted in perforated 
cardboard 53 $ 

To the influence of William Morris does the civilized 
world owe its salvation from the mad rage and rush for 
the tawdry and cheap in home decoration. It will 
not do to say that if William Morris had not called a 
halt some one else would, nor to cavil by declaring that 
the inanities of the Plush-Covered Age followed the 
Era of the Hair-Cloth Sofa. These things are frankly 
admitted, but the refreshing fact remains that fully 
one-half the homes of England and America have been 
influenced by the good taste and vivid personality of 
one strong, earnest man. 

William Morris was the strongest all-round man the 
century has produced. He was an Artist and a Poet in 
the broadest and best sense of these much-bandied 
terms. William Morris could do more things, and 
do them well, than any other man of either ancient or 
modern times whom we can name. William Morris was 
master of six distinct trades. He was a weaver, a black- 
smith, a wood-carver, a painter, a dyer and a printer; 
and he was a musical composer of no mean ability. 
4 34 



WILLIAM MORRIS 



Better than all, he was an enthusiastic lover of his 
race: his heart throbbed for humanity, and believing 
that society could be reformed only from below, he 
cast his lot with the toilers, dressed as one of them, 
and in the companionship of workingmen found a 
response to his holy zeal which the society of an entailed 
aristocracy denied. 

The main who could influence the entire housekeeping 
of half a world, and give the kingdom of fashion a list 
to starboard; who could paint beautiful pictures; com- 
pose music; speak four languages; write sublime verse; 
address a public assemblage effectively; produce plays; 
resurrect the lost art of making books, books such as 
were made only in the olden time as a loving, religious 
service; who lived a clean, wholesome, manly life 
beloved by those who knew him best shall we not 
call him Master? 



35 



ROBERT BROWNING 




ROBERT BROWNING 



So, take and use Thy work. 

Amend what flaws may lurk, 

What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim? 

My times be in Thy hand! 

Perfect the cup as planned! 

Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same* 

-fottf&R&fli 



ROBERT BROWNING 




F there ever lived a poet to whom 
the best minds pour out libations, 
it is Robert Browning. We think of 
him as dwelling on high Olympus; 
we read his lines by the light of dim 
candles; we quote him in sonorous 
monotone at twilight when soft- 
sounding organ-chants come to us 
mellow and sweet. Browning's poems form a lover's 
litany to that elect few who hold that the true mating 
of a man and a woman is the marriage of the mind. And 
thrice blest was Browning, in that Fate allowed him to 
live his philosophy to work his poetry up into life, and 
then again to transmute life and love into art. Fate was 
kind: success came his way so slowly that he was never 
subjected to the fierce, dazzling searchlight of publicity; 
his recognition in youth was limited to a few obscure 
friends and neighbors. And when distance divided him 
from these, they forgot him; so there seems a hiatus in 
his history, when for a score of years literary England 
dimly remembered some one by the name of Browning, 
but could not just place him. 

About the year Eighteen Hundred Sixty-eight the 
author of " Sordeflo " wats induced to appear at an 
evening of " Uncut Leaves " at the house of a noble- 
man at the West End, London. James Russell Lowell 

39 



ROBERT BROWNING 



was present and was congratulated by a lady, sitting 
next to him, on the fact that Browning was an American. 
<I " But only by adoption! " answered the gracious 
Lowell 33 S3 

" Yes," said the lady; " I believe his father was an 
Englishman, so you Americans can not have all the 
credit; but surely he shows the Negro or Indian blood 
of his mother. Very clever, is n't he? so very clever! " 
*f Browning's swarthy complexion, and the fine poise of 
the man the entire absence of "nerves/' as often 
shown in the savage seemed to carry out the idea 
that his was a peculiar pedigree. In his youth, when 
his hair was as black as the raven's wing and coarse 
as a horse-tail, and his complexion mahogany, the 
report that he was a Creole found ready credence. And 
so did this gossip of mixed parentage follow him that 
Mrs. Sutherland Orr, in her biography, takes an entire 
chapter to prove that in Robert Browning's veins there 
flowed neither Indian nor Negro blood. 
Doctor Furnivall, however, explains that Browning's 
grandmother on his father's side came from the West 
Indies, that nothing is known of her family history, 
and that she was a Creole. 

And beyond this, the fact is stated that Robert Brown- 
ing was quite pleased when he used to be taken for a 
Jew a conclusion made plausible by his complexion, 
hair and features. 

In its dead-serious, hero-worshiping attitude, the life 
40 



ROBERT BROWNING 



of Robert Browning by Mrs. Orr deserves to rank 
with Weems' " Life of Washington/* It is the brief 
of an attorney for the defense. '" Little-Willie " anec- 
dotes appear on every page. 

And thus do we behold the tendency to make Brown- 
ing something more than a man and, therefore, some- 
thing less. 

Possibly women are given to this sort of thing more 
than men I am not sure. But this I know, every young 
woman regards her lover as a distinct and peculiar 
personage, different from all others as if this were a 
virtue the only one of his kind. Later, if Fate is kind, 
she learns that her own experience is not unique. We 
all easily fit into a type, and each is but a representative 
of his class. 

Robert Browning sprang from a line of clerks and small 
merchants; but as indemnity for the lack of a family 
'scutcheon, we are told that his uncle, Reuben Brown- 
ing, was a sure-enough poet. For once in an idle hour he 
threw off a little thing for an inscription to be placed 
on a presentation ink-bottle, and Disraeli seeing it, 
declared, *' Nothing like this has ever before been 
written! " 53 S3 

Beyond doubt, Disraeli made the statement it bears 
his earmark. It will be remembered that the Earl of 
Beaconsfield had a stock form for acknowledging receipt 
of the many books sent to him by aspiring authors. It 
ran something like this: " The Earl of Beaconsfield 

41 



ROBERT BROWNING 



begs to thank the gifted author of for a copy of 

his book, and gives the hearty assurance that he will 
waste no time in reading the volume." 
And further, the fact is set forth with unction that 
Robert Browning was entrusted with a latchkey early 
in life, and that he always gave his mother a good-night 
kiss. He gave her the good-night kiss willy-nilly. If she 
had retired when he came home, he used the trusty 
latchkey and went to her room to imprint on her lips 
the good-night kiss. He did this, the biographer would 
have us believe, to convince the good mother that his 
breath was what it should be; and he awakened her 
so she would know the hour was seasonable. 
In many manufactories there is an electric apparatus 
wherewith every employee registers when he arrives, 
by turning a key or pushing a button. Robert Browning 
always fearlessly registered as soon as he got home 
this according to Mrs. Orr. 

Unfortunately, or otherwise, there is a little scattered 
information which makes us believe that Robert 
Browning's mother was not so fearful of her son's 
conduct, nor suspicious as to his breath, as to lie awake 
nights and keep tab on his hours. The world has never 
denied that Robert Browning was entrusted with a 
latchkey, and it cares little if occasionally, early in 
life, he fumbled for the keyhole. And my conception 
of his character is such that, when in the few in- 
stances Aurora, rosy goddess of the morn, marked his 
42 



ROBERT BROWNING 



homecoming with chrome-red in the eastern sky, ke 
did not search the sleeping-rooms for his mother to 
apprise her of the hour. 

In one place Mrs. Orr avers, in a voice hushed with 
emotion, that Browning carefully read all of Johnson's 
Dictionary " as a fit preparation for a literary career." 
<I Without any attempt to deny that the perusal of a 
dictionary is " fit preparation for a literary career," I 
yet fear me that the learned biographer, in a warm 
anxiety to prove the man exceeding studious and very 
virtuous, has tipped a bit to t* other side. 
She has apotheosized her subject and in an attempt 
to portray him as a peculiar person, set apart, has well- 
nigh given us a being without hands, feet, eyes, ears^ 
organs, dimensions, passions. 

But after a careful study of the data, various visits to 
the places where he lived in England, trips to Casa 
Guidi, views from Casa Guidi windows, a journey to 
Palazzo Rezzonico at Venice, where he died, and many 
a pious pilgrimage to Poets' Corner, in Westminster 
Abbey, where he sleeps, I am constrained to believe that 
Robert Browning was made from the same kind of clay 
as the rest of us. He was human he was splendidly 
human 33 53 



43 



ROBERT BROWNING 




ROWNING'S father was a bank-clerk; and 
Robert Browning, the Third, author of "Para- 
celsus/* could have secured his father's place 
in the Bank of England, if he had had 
ambitions. And the fact that he had not was a source 
of silent sorrow to the father, even to the day of his 
death, in Eighteen Hundred Sixty-six. 
Robert Browning, the grandfather, entered the Bank 
as an errand-boy, and rose by slow stages to Principal 
of the Stock-Room. He served the Bank full half a 
century, and saved from his salary a goodly competence. 
This money, tightly and rightly invested, passed to his 
son. The son never secured the complete favor of his 
employers that the father had known, but he added to 
his weekly stipend by what a writer terms, " legiti- 
mate perquisites." This, being literally interpreted, 
means that he purchased paper, pens and sealing-wax 
for the use of the Bank, and charged the goods in at his 
own price, doubtless with the consent of his superior, 
with whom he divided profits. He could have parodied 
the remark of Fletcher of Saltoun and said, ** Let me 
supply the perquisite-requisites and I care not who 
makes the laws/' So he grew rich moderately rich 
and lived simply and comfortably up at Camberwell, 
with only one besetting dissipation: he was a book- 
collector and had learned more Greek than Robert 
the Third was to acquire. He searched bookstalls on the 
way to the City in the morning, and lay in wait for 
44 



ROBERT BROWNING 



First Editions on the way home at night. When Ke had 
a holiday, he went in search of a book. He sneaked 
books into the house, and declared to his admonishing 
wife the next week that he had always owned 'em, or 
that they were presented to him. The funds his father 
had left him, his salary and " the perquisites," made a 
goodly income, but he always complained of poverty. 
He was secretly hoarding sums so as to secure certain 
books 33 33 

The shelves grew until they reached the ceiling, and 
then bookcases invaded the dining-room. The col- 
lector did n't trust his wife with the household pur- 
chasing; no bank-clerk ever does and all the pennies 
were needed for books. The good wife, having nothing 
else to do, grew anemic, had neuralgia and lapsed into 
a Shut-In, wearing a pale-blue wrapper and reclining 
on a couch, around which were piled mountain-high 
books 33 33 

The pale invalid used to imagine that the great cases 
were swaying and dancing a minuet, and she fully 
expected the tomes would all come a- toppling down and 
smother her and she did n't care much if they would; 
but they never did. She was the mother of two children 
the boy Robert, born the year after her marriage; 
and in a little over another year a daughter came, and 
this closed the family record. 

The invalid mother was a woman of fine feeling and 
much poetic insight. She did n't talk as much about 

45 



ROBERT BROWNING 



books as her husband did, but I think she knew the 
good ones better. The mother and son moused in books 
together, and Mrs. Orr is surely right in her suggestion 
that this love of mother and son took upon itself the 
nature of a passion. 

The love of Robert Browning for Elizabeth Barrett 
was a revival and a renewal, in many ways, of the 
condition of tenderness and sympathy that existed 
between Browning and his mother. There certainly 
was a strange and marked resemblance in the char- 
acters of Elizabeth Barrett and the mother of Robert 
Browning; and to many this fully accounts for the 
instant affection that Browning felt toward the occu- 
pant of the ** darkened room," when first they met 33 
The book-collector took much pride in his boy, and 
used to take him on book-hunting excursions, and some^ 
times to the Bank, on which occasions he would tell 
the Beef-Eaters how this was Robert Browning, the 
Third, and that all three of the R. B/s were loyal 
servants of the Bank. And the Beef-Eaters would rest 
their staves on the stone floor, and smile Fifteenth- 
Century grimaces at the boy from under their cocked 
hats 33 33 

Robert the Third was a healthy, rollicking lad, with 
power plus, and a deal of destructiveness in his nature. 
But destructiveness in a youngster is only energy not 
yet properly directed, just as dirt is useful matter in 
die wrong place, 
46 



ROBERT BROWNING 



To keep the boy out of mischief, he was sent to a sort 
of kindergarten, kept by a spinster around the corner. 
The spinster devoted rather more attention to the 
Browning boy than to her other pupils she had to, 
to keep him out of mischief and soon the boy was 
quite the head scholar* 

And they tell us that he was so much more clever 
than any of the other scholars that, to appease the 
rising jealousy of the parents of the other pupils, the 
diplomatic spinster requested that the boy be removed 
from her school all this according to the earnest biog- 
rapher. The facts are that the boy had so much energy 
and restless ambition; was so full of brimming curiosity, 
mischief and imagination introducing turtles, bats and 
mice on various occasions that he led the whole school 
a merry chase and wore the nerves of the ancient 
maiden to a frazzle. 
He had to go. 

After this he studied at home with his mother. His 
father laid out a schedule, and it was lived up to, for 
about a week. 

Then a private tutor was tried, but soon this plan was 
abandoned, and a system of reading, best described 
as " natural selection/* was followed. 
The boy was fourteen, and his sister was twelve, past. 
These are the ages when children often experience a 
change of heart, as all " revivalists " know. Robert 
Browning was swinging off towards atheism. He grew 

47 



ROBERT BROWNING 



melancholy, irritable and wrote stanzas of sentimental 
verse. He showed this verse, high-sounding, stilted, 
bold and bilious, to his mother and then to his father, 
and finally to Lizzie Flower. 

A word about Lizzie Flower: She was nine years older 
than Robert Browning; and she had a mind that was 
gracious and full of high aspiration. She loved books, 
art, music, and all harmony made its appeal to her 
and not in vain. She wrote verses and, very sensibly, 
kept them locked in her workbox; and then she painted 
in water-colors and worked in worsted. A thoroughly 
good woman, she wets far above the average in character, 
with a half-minor key in her voice and a tinge of the 
heartbroken in her composition, caused no one just 
knew how. Probably a certain young curate at Saint 
Margaret's could have thrown light on this point; but 
he married, took on a double chin, moved away to a fat 
living and never told. 

No woman is ever wise or good until destiny has sub- 
dued her by grinding her fondest hopes into the dust 35 
Lizzie Flower was wise and good. 

She gave singing lessons to the Browning children. 
She taught Master Robert Browning to draw. 
She read to him some of her verses that were in the 
sewing-table drawer. And her sister, Sarah Flower, 
two years older, afterwards Sarah Flower Adams, read 
aloud to them a hymn she had just written, called, 
" Nearer, My God, to Thee." 
4$ 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Then soon Master Robert showed the Flower girls 
some of the verses he had written. 
Robert liked Lizzie Flower first-rate, and told his 
mother so. A young woman never cares anything for an 
unlicked cub, nine years younger than herself, unless 
Fate has played pitch and toss with her heart's true 
love. And then, the tendrils of the affections being 
ruthlessly lacerated and uprooted, they cling to the 
first object that presents itself. 

Lizzie Flower was a wallflower. That is to say, she 
had early in life rid herself of the admiration of the 
many, by refusing to supply an unlimited amount of 
small talk. In feature she was as plain as George Eliot. 
A boy is plastic, and even a modest wallflower can 
woo him; but a man, for her, inspires awe with him 
she takes no liberties. And the wallflower woos the 
youth unwittingly, thinking the while she is only using 
her influence the better to instruct him. 
It is fortunate for a boy escaping adolescence to be 
educated and loved (the words are synonymous) by a 
good woman. Indeed, the youngster who has not vio- 
lently loved a woman old enough to be his mother has 
dropped something out of his life that he will have to 
go back and pick up in another incarnation. 
I said Robert liked Lizzie Flower first-rate; and she 
declared that he was the brightest and most receptive 
pupil she had ever had. 

He was seventeen she was twenty-six. They read 

49 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Shelley, Keats and Byron aloud, and together passed 
through the " Byronic Period/' They became violently 
atheistic, and at the same time decidedly religious: 
things that seem paradoxical, but are not. They 
adopted a vegetable diet and for two years they 
eschewed meat. They worshiped in the woods, feeling 
that the groves were God's first temples; and sitting at 
the gnarled roots of some great oak, they would read 
aloud, by turn, from "Queen Mab." 
On one such excursion out across Hampstead Heath 
they lost their copy of " Shelley " in the leaves, and a 
wit has told us that it sprouted, and as a result the 
flower and fruit we have Browning's poem of '* Paul- 
ine." And this must be so, for Robert and Miss Flower 
(he always called her " Miss Flower," but she called 
him " Robert ") made many an excursion, in search of 
the book, yet they never found it. 
Robert now being eighteen, a man grown not large, 
but very strong and wiry his father made arrange- 
ments for him to take a minor clerkship in the Bank. 
But the boy rebelled he was going to be an artist, or 
a poet, or something like that. 

The father argued that a man could be a poet and still 
work in a bank the salary was handy; and there was 
no money in poetry. In fact, he himself was a poet, as 
his father had been before him. To be a bank-clerk and 
at the same time a poet what nobler ambition! 
The young man was still stubborn. He was feeling 
50 



ROBERT BROWNING 



discontented with his environment: lie was cramped, 
cabined, cribbed, confined. He wanted to get out of 
the world of petty plodding and away from the silly 
round of conventions, out into the world of art or 
else of barbarism he did n't care which. 
The latter way opened first, and a bit of wordy warfare 
with his father on the subject of idleness sent him 
off to a gipsy camp at Epsom Downs. How long he 
lived with the vagabonds we do not know, but his 
swarthy skin, and his skill as a boxer and wrestler, 
recommended him to the ragged gentry, and they 
received him as a brother. 

It is probable that a week of pure vagabondia cured 
him of the idea that civilization is a disease, for he 
came back home, made a bonfire of his attire, and af ter 
a vigorous tubbing, was clothed in his right mind. 
Groggy studies in French under a private tutor followed, 
and then came a term as special student in Greek at 
London University. 

To be nearer the school, he took lodgings in Gower 
Street; but within a week a slight rough-house inci- 
dent occurred that crippled most of the furniture in 
his room and deprived the stair-rail of its spindles. 
R. Browning, the Second, bank-clerk, paid the damages, 
and R. Browning, the Third, aged twenty, came back 
home, formally notifying all parties concerned that he 
had chosen a career it was Poetry. He would woo the 
Divine Goddess, no matter who opposed. There, now! 

51 



ROBERT BROWNING 



His mother was delighted; his father gave reluctant 
consent, declaring that any course in life was better 
than vacillation; and Miss Flower, who probably had 
sown the dragon's teeth, assumed a look of surprise, but 
gave it as her opinion that Robert Browning would 
yet be Poet Laureate of England. 



ROBERT BROWNING 




JOBERT BROWNING awoke one morning 
with a start it was the morning of his 
thirtieth birthday. One's thirtieth birthday 

and one's seventieth are days that press their 

message home with iron hand. With his seventieth mile- 
stone past, a man feels that his work is done, and dim 
voices call to him from across the Unseen. His work is 
done, and so illy, compared with what he had wished 
and expected! But the impressions made upon his heart 
by the day are no deeper than those his thirtieth birth- 
day inspires. At thirty, youth, with all it palliates and 
excuses, is gone forever. The time for mere fooling is 
past; the young avoid you, or else look up to you as a 
Nestor and tempt you to grow reminiscent. You are a 
man and must give an account of yourself. 
Out of the stillness came a Voice to Robert Browning 
saying, " What hast thou done with the talent I gave 
thee? " & 33 

What had herdone? It seemed to him at the moment 
as if he had done nothing. He arose and looked into 
the mirror. A few gray hairs were mixed in his beard; 
there were crow's feet on his forehead; and the first 
joyous flush of youth had gone from his face forever. 
He was a bachelor, inwardly at war with his environ- 
ment, but making a bold front with his tuppence worth 
of philosophy to conceal the unrest within. 
A bachelor of thirty, strong in limb, clear in brain and 
yet a dependent! No one but himself to support, and 



ROBERT BROWNING 



could n't even do that! Gadzooks! Fie upon all poetry 
and a plague upon this dumb, dense, shopkeeping, beer- 
drinking nation upon which the sun never sets! 
The father of Robert Browning had done everything 
a father could. He had supplied board and books, and 
given his son an allowance of a pound a week for ten 
years. He had sent him on a journey to Italy, and 
published several volumes of the young man's verse 
at his own expense. And these books were piled high 
in the garret, save a few that had been bought by 
charitable friends or given away. 

Robert Browning was not discouraged oh no, not 
that! only the world seemed to stretch out in a dull, 
monotonous gray, where once it was green, the color 
of hope, and all decked with flowers. 
The little literary world of London knew Browning and 
respected him. He was earnest and sincere and his 
personality carried weight. His face was not handsome, 
but his manner was one of poise and purpose; and^to 
come within his aura and look into his calm eyes was 
to respect the man and make obeisance to the intellect 
that you felt lay behind. 

A few editors had gone out of their way to " discover " 
him to the world, but their lavish reviews fell flat. 
Buyers would not buy no one seemed to want the 
wares of Robert Browning. He was hard to read, diffi- 
cult, obscure or else there was n't anything in it at all 
they did n't know which. 
54 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Fox, editor of the "Repository," had met Browning 
at the Flowers* and liked him. He tried to make his 
verse go, but could n't. Yet he did what he could and 
insisted that Browning should go with him to the 
" Sunday evenings " at Barry Cornwall's. There Brown- 
ing met Leigh Hunt, Monckton Milnes and Dickens 33 
Then there were dinner-parties at Sergeant Talfourd's, 
where he got acquainted with Wordsworth, Walter 
Savage Landor and Macready. 

Macready impressed him greatly and he impressed 
Macready. He gave the actor a copy of " Paracelsus ** 
(one of the pile in the garret) and Macready suggested 
he write a play. " Straff ord " was the result, and we 
know it was stillborn, and caused a very frosty feeling 
to exist for many a year between the author and the 
actor. When a play fails, the author blames the actor and 
the actor damns the author. These men were human. 
^Of course Browning's kinsmen all considered him 
a failure, and when the father paid over the weekly 
allowance he often rubbed it in a bit. Lizzie Flower 
had modified her prophecy as to the Laureateship, but 
was still loyal. They had tiffed occasionally, and broken 
off the friendship, and once I believe returned letters. 
To marry was out of the question he could n't sup- 
port himself and besides that, they were old, demnition 
old; he was past thirty and she was forty Gramercy! 
They tiffed. 
Then they made up* 

55 



ROBERT BROWNING 



In the meantime Browning had formed a friendship, 
very firm and frank, but strictly Platonic, of course, for 
Fanny Haworth. Miss Haworth had seen more of the 
world than Miss Flower she was an artist, a writer, 
and moved in the best society. Browning and Miss 
Haworth wrote letters to each other for a while most 
every day, and he called on her every Wednesday and 
Saturday evening. 

Miss Haworth bought and gave away many copies of 
"Pauline," " Sordello " and "Paracelsus"; and in- 
formed her friends that " Pippa Passes " and " Two in 
a Gondola " were great quality. 

About this time we find Edward Moxon, the publisher 
(who married the adopted daughter of Charles and 
Mary Lamb), saying to Browning: " Your verse is all 
right, Browning, but a book of it is too much: people 
are appalled; they can not digest it. And when it goes 
into a magazine it is lost in the mass. Now just let me 
get out your work in little monthly instalments, in 
booklet form, and I think it will go/' 
Browning jumped at the idea. 

The booklets were gotten out in paper covers and 
offered at a moderate price. 

They sold, and sold well. The literary elite bought 
them by the dozen to give away. 

People began to talk about Browning rhe was getting 
a foothold. His royalties now amounted to as much as 
the weekly allowance from his father, and Pater was 
56 



ROBERT BROWNING 



talking of cutting off the stipend entirely. Finances 
being easy, Browning thought it a good time to take 
another look at Italy. Some of the best things he had 
written had been inspired by Venice and Asolo he 
would go again. And so he engaged passage on a sailing- 
ship for Naples. 



57 



ROBERT BROWNING 




JIHORTLY after Browning's return to London, 
in Eighteen Hundred Forty-four, he dined at 
Sergeant Talfourd's* After the dinner a well- 
dressed and sprightly old gentleman intro- 
duced himself and begged that Browning would inscribe 
a copy of " Bells and Pomegranates/' that he had 
gotten specially bound. There is an ancient myth about 
writers being harassed by autograph-fiends and all 
that; but the simple fact is, nothing so warms the cockles 
of an author's heart as to be asked for his autograph. Of 
course Browning graciously complied with the gentle- 
man's request, and in order that he might insert the 
owner's name in the inscription, asked: 
" What name, please? " 
And the answer was, " John Kenyon/' 
Then Mr. Browning and Mr. Kenyon had a nice little 
visit, talking about books and art. And Mr. Kenyon 
told Mr. Browning that Miss Elizabeth Barrett, the 
poetess, was a cousin of his he was a bit boastful of 
the fact 33 33 

And Mr. Browning nodded and said he had often 
heard of her, and admired her work. 
Then Mr. Kenyon suggested that Mr. Browning write 
and tell her so " You see she has just gotten out a 
new book, and we are all a little nervous about how 
it is going to take. Miss Barrett lives in a darkened 
room, you know sees no one and a letter from a 
man like you would encourage her greatly/* 
56 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Mr. Kenyon wrote the address of Miss Barrett on a 

card and pushed it across the table. 

Mr. Browning took the card, put it in his pocketbook 

and promised to write Miss Barrett, as Mr. Kenyon 

requested 53 53 

And he did. 

Miss Barrett replied, 

Mr. Browning answered, and soon several letters a 

week were going in each direction. 

Not quite so many missives were being received by 

Fanny Haworth; and as for Lizzie Flower, I fear she 

was quite forgotten. She fell into a decline, drooped 

and died in a year. 

Mr. Browning asked for permission to call on Miss 

Barrett 53 53 

Miss Barrett explained that her father would not allow 

it, neither would the doctor or nurse, and added : " There 

is nothing to see in me. I am a weed fit for the ground 

and darkness/' 

But this repulse only made Mr. Browning want to see 

her the more. He appealed to Mr. Kenyon, who was 

the only person allowed to call, besides Miss Mitford 

Mr. Kenyon was her cousin. 

Mr. Kenyon arranged it he was an expert at arranging 

anything of a delicate nature. He tinned the hour when 

Mr. Barrett was down town, and the nurse and doctor 

safely out of the way, and they called on the invalid 

prisoner in the darkened toom. 

59 



ROBERT BROWNING 



They did not stay long, but when they went away Robert 
Browning trod on air. The beautiful girl-like face, in its 
frame of dark curls, lying back among the pillows, 
haunted him like a shadow. He was thirty-three, she 
was thirty-five. She looked like a child, but the mind 
the subtle, appreciative, receptive mind! The mind that 
caught every allusion, that knew his thought before he 
voiced it, that found nothing obscure in his work, and 
that put a high and holy construction on his every 
sentence it was divine I divinity incarnated in a woman. 
<I Robert Browning tramped the streets forgetful of 
meat, drink or rest. 

He would give this woman freedom. He would devote 
himself to restoring her to the air and sunshine. What 
nobler ambition I He was an idler, he had never done 
anything for anybody. He was only a killer of time, a 
vagrant, but now was his opportunity he would do 
for this beautiful soul what no one else on earth could 
do. She was slipping away as it was the world would 
soon lose her. Was there none to save? 
Here was the finest intellect ever given to a woman 
so sure, so vital, so tender and yet so strong! 
He would love her back to life and light! 
And so Robert Browning told her all this shortly after, 
but before he told, she had divined his thought. For 
solitude and loneliness and heart-hunger had given her 
the power of an astral being; she was in communica- 
tion with all the finer forces that pervade our ether. 
60 



ROBERT BROWNING 



He would love her back to life and light he told her 
so. She grew better. Cf And soon we find her getting up 
and throwing wide the shutters. It was no longer the 
darkened room, for the sunlight came dancing through 
the apartment, driving out all the dark shadows that 
lurked therein 5S The doctor was indignant; the nurse 
resigned. <f Of course, Mr, Barrett was not taken into 
confidence and no one asked his consent. Why should 
they? he was the man who could never understand 33 
So one fine day when the coast was clear, the couple 
went over to Saint Marylebone Church and were mar- 
ried. The bride went home alone could walk all right 
now and it was a week before her husband saw her, 
because he would not be a hypocrite and go ring the 
doorbell and ask if Miss Barrett was home; and of 
course if he had asked for Mrs. Robert Browning, no 
one would have known whom he wanted to see. 
But at the end of a week, the bride stole down the 
stairs, while the family was at dinner, leading her dog 
Flush by a string, and all the time, with throbbing heart, 
she prayed the dog not to bark. I have oft wondered in 
the stilly night season what the effect on English Let- 
ters would have been, had the dog really barked! But 
the dog did not bark; and Elizabeth met her lover-hus- 
band there on the corner where the mail-box is. No one 
missed the runaways until the next day, and then the 
bride and groom were safely in France, writing letters back 
from Dieppe, asking forgiveness and craving blessings. 

61 



ROBERT BROWNING 




]HE is the Genius and I am the Clever Person," 
Browning used to say. And this I believe will 
be the world's final judgment. 
Browning knew the world in its every phase 
good and bad, high and low, society and commerce, the 
shop and gypsy camp. He absorbed things, assimilated 
them, compared and wrote it out. 

Elizabeth Barrett had never traveled, her opportunities 
for meeting people had been few, her experiences 
limited, and yet she evolved truth: she secreted 
beauty from within. 

For two years after their elopement they did not write 
how could they? goodness me! They were on their 
wedding-tour. They lived in Florence and Rome and 
in various mountain villages in Italy. 
Health came back, and joy and peace and perfect love 
were theirs. But it was joy bought with a price Eliz- 
abeth Barrett Browning had forfeited the love of her 
father. Her letters written him came back unopened, 
books inscribed to him were returned he declared she 
was dead. 

Her brothers, too, discarded her, and when her two 
sisters wrote, they did so by stealth, and their letters, 
meant to be kind, were steel for her heart. Then her 
father was rich; and she had always known every 
comfort that money could buy. Now, she had taken up 
with a poor poet, and every penny had to be counted 
absolute economy was demanded 33 And Robert 
62 



ROBERT BROWNING 



Browning, with a certain sense of guilt upon him, for 
depriving her of all the creature comforts she had 
known, sought by tenderness and love to make her 
forget the insults her father heaped upon her. 
As for Browning, the bank-clerk, he was vexed that his 
son should show so little caution as to load himself up 
with an invalid wife, and he cut off the allowance, 
declaring that if a man was old enough to marry, he was 
also old enough to care for himself. He did, however, 
make his son several " loans " ; and finally came to 
" bless the day that his son had sense enough to marry 
the best and most talented woman on earth." 
Browning's poems were selling slowly, and Mrs. Brown- 
ing's books brought her a little royalty, thanks to the 
loyal management of John Kenyon, and so absolute 
want and biting poverty did not overtake the runaways. 
flf After the birth of her son, in Eighteen Hundred Forty- 
nine, Mrs. Browning's health seemed to have fully 
returned. She used to ride horseback up and down the 
mountain passes, and wrote home to Miss Mitford that 
love had turned the dial backward and the joyousness 
of girlhood had come again to her. 

When John Kenyon died and left them ten thousand 
pounds, all their own, it placed them forever beyond 
the apprehension of want, and also enabled them to do 
for others; for they pensioned old Walter Savage Lan~ 
dor, and established him in comfortable quarters around 
the comer from Casat GuidL 

63 



ROBERT BROWNING 



I intimated a moment ago that their honeymoon con- 
tinued for two years. This was a mistake, for it con- 
tinued for just fifteen years, when the beautiful girl-like 
form, with her head of flowing curls upon her husband's 
shoulder, ceased to breathe. Painlessly and without 
apprehension or premonition, the spirit had taken its 
flight 33 53 

That letter of Miss Blagdon's, written some weeks 
after, telling of how the stricken man paced the echoing 
hallways at night crying, " I want her! I want her! " 
touches us like a great, strange sorrow that once pierced 
our hearts. 

But Robert Browning's nature was too strong to be 
subdued by grief. He remembered that others, too, 
had buried their dead, and that sorrow had been man's 
portion since the world began. He would live for his 
boy for Her child. 

But Florence was no longer his Florence, and he made 
haste to settle up his affairs and go back to England. 
He never returned to Florence, and never saw the 
beautiful monument, designed by his lifelong friend, 
Frederick Leighton. 

When you visit the little English Cemetery at Florence, 
the slim little girl that comes down the path, swinging 
the big bunch of keys, opens the high iron gate and 
leads you, without word or question, straight to the 
grave of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 
Browning was forty-nine when Mrs. Browning died. 
64 



ROBERT BROWNING 



And by the time he had reached his fiftieth meridian, 
England, harkening to America's suggestion, was 
awakening to the fact that he was one of the workTs 
great poets. 

Honors came slowly, but surely: Oxford with a degree; 
Saint Andrew's with a Lord-Rectorship; publishers 
with advance payments. And when Smith and Elder 
paid one hundred pounds for the poem of " Herve 
Kiel," it seemed that at last Browning's worth was 
being recognized. Not, of course, that money is the 
infallible test, but even poetry has its Rialto, where 
the extent of appreciation is shown by prices current 3$ 
Browning's best work was done after his wife's death; 
and in that love he ever lived and breathed* In his 
seventy-fifth year, it filled his days and dreams as 
though it were a thing of yesterday, singing in his heart 
a perpetual eucharist. 

'* The Ring and the Book " must be regarded as 
Browning's crowning work. Offhand critics have dis- 
posed of it, but the great minds go back to it again and 
again. In the character of Pompilia the author sought 
to pay tribute to the woman whose memory was 
ever in his mind; yet he was too sensitive and shrinking 
to fully picture her. He sought to mask his inspiration; 
but tender, loving recollections of " Ba " are inter- 
laced and interwoven through it all. 
When Robert Browning died, in Eighteen Hundred 
Eighty-nine, the world of literature and art uncovered 

65 



ROBERT BROWNING 



in token of honor to one who had lived long and well 
and had done a deathless work. And the doors of 
storied Westminster opened wide to receive his dust, 



66 



ALFRED TENNYSON 




ALFRED TENNYSON 



Not of the sunlight, 
Not of the moonlight, 
Nor of the starlight! 
young Mariner, 
Down to the haven, 
Call your companions, 
Launch your vessel, 
And crowd your canvas, 
And ere it vanishes 
Over the margin, 
After it, follow it, 

Follow the Gleam. 

Merlin 



ALFRED TENNYSON 




HE grandfather of Tennyson had 
two sons, the elder boy, according 
to Clement Scott, being " both 
wilful and commonplace." Now, of 
course, the property and honors and 
titles, according to the law of Eng- 
land, would all gravitate to the 
commonplace boy; and the second 



son, who was competent, dutiful and worthy, would be 
out in the cold world simply because he was acciden- 
tally born second and not first. It was not his fault that 
he was born second, and it was in no wise to the credit of 
the other that he was born first. 

So the father, seeing that the elder boy had small 
executive capacity, and no appreciation of a Good 
Thing, disinherited him, giving him, however, a generous 
allowance, but letting the titles go to the second boy, 
who was bright and brave and withal a right manly 
f ellow & 33 

Personally, I *m glad the honors went to the best man. 
But Hallam Tennyson, son of the poet, sees only rank 
injustice in the action of his ancestor, who deliberately 
set his own opinion of right and justice against precedent 
as embodied in English Law. As a matter of strictest 
justice, we might argue that neither boy was entitled 
to anything which he had not earned, and that, in 

69 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



dividing the property between them, instead of allowing 
it all to drift into the hands of the one accidentally born 
first, the father acted wisely and welL 
But neither Alfred nor Hallam Tennyson thought 
so. How much their opinions were biased by the fact 
that they were descendants of the firstborn son, we 
can not say. Anyway, the descendants of the second 
son, the Honorable Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt, have 
made no protest of which I can learn, about justice 
having been defeated. 

Considering this subject of the Law of Entail one step 
further, we find that Hallam, the present Lord Tenny- 
son, is a Peer of the Realm simply because his father 
was a great poet, and honors were given him on that 
account by the Queen. These honors go to Hallam, who, 
as all men agree, is in many ways singularly like his 
grandfather. 

Genius is not hereditary, but titles are. Hallam is 
eminently pleased with the English Law of Entail, save 
that he questions whether any father has the divine 
right to divert his titles and wealth from the eldest 
son. Lord Hallam's arguments are earnest and well 
expressed, but they seem to show that he is lacking 
in what Herbert Spencer calls the " value sense " in 
other words, the sense of humor. 

Hallam's lack of perspective is further demonstrated 
by his patient efforts to explain who the various Ten- 
Dysons were. In my boyhood days I thought there 
70 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



was but one Tennyson. On reading Hallam's book, 
however, one would think there were dozens of them. 
To keep these various men, bearing one name, from 
being confused in the mind of the reader, is quite a task; 
and to better identify one particular Tennyson, Hallam 
always refers to him as " Father," or " My Father/* 
In the course of a recent interview with W. H. Seward, 
of Auburn, New York, I was impressed by his dignified, 
respectful, and affectionate references to " Seward." 
" This belonged to Seward," and " Seward told me** 
as though there were but one. In these pages I will 
speak of Tennyson there has been_but one there 
will never be another. 



71 



ALFRED TENNYSONT 




THINK Clement Scott is a little severe in his 
estimate of the character of Tennyson's father, 
although the main facts are doubtless as he 

states them. The Reverend George Clayton 

Tennyson, Rector of Somersby and Wood Enderby 
parishes, was a typical English parson. As a boy he was 
simply big, fat and lazy. His health was so perfect that 
it overtopped all ambition, and having no nerves to 
speak of, his sensibilities were very slight. 
When he was disinherited in favor of his younger 
brother, a keen, nervous, forceful fellow, he accepted 
it as a matter of course. His career was planned for 
him: he " took orders/' married the young woman his 
folks selected, and slipped easily into his proper niche 
his adipose serving as a buffer for his feelings. In his 
intellect there was no flash, and his insight into the 
heart of things was small. 

Being happily married to a discreet woman who man- 
aged him without ever letting him be aware of it, and 
having a sure and sufficient income, and never know- 
ing that he had a stomach, he did his clerical work 
(with the help of a curate), and lived out the measure 
of his days, no wiser at the last than he was at thirty. 
<I In passing, we may call attention to the fact that 
the average man is a victim of Arrested Development, 
and that the fleeting years bring an increase of knowl- 
edge only in very exceptional cases. Health and pros- 
perity are not pure blessings a certain element of 

72 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



discontent is necessary to spur men on to a higher life* 
<I The Reverend George Clayton Tennyson had income 
enough to meet his wants, but not enough to embarrass 
him with the responsibility of taking care of it. Each 
quarterly stipend was spent before it arrived, and the 
family lived on credit until another three months 
rolled around. They had roast beef as often as they 
wanted it; in the cellar were puncheons, kegs and 
barrels, and as there was no rent to pay nor landlords 
to appease, care sat lightly on the Rector. 
Elizabeth, this man's wife, is worthy of more than a 
passing note. She was the daughter of the Reverend 
Stephen Fytche, vicar of Louth. Her family was not so 
high in rank as the Tennysons, because the Tennysons 
belonged to the gentry. But she was intelligent, amiable, 
fairly good-looking, and being the daughter of a clergy- 
man, had beyond doubt a knowledge of clerical needs; 
so it was thought she would make a good wife for the 
newly appointed incumbent of Somersby. 
The parents arranged it, the young folks were willing, 
and so they were married and the bridegroom was 
happy ever afterward. 

And why should n't he have been happy? Surely no 
man was ever blessed with a better wife! He had made a 
reach into the matrimonial grab-bag and drawn forth a 
jeweL This jewel was many-faceted. Without affectation 
or silly pride, the clergyman's wife did the work that 
God sent her to do. The sense of duty was strong upon 

73 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



her. Babies came, once each two years, and in one case 
two in one year, and there was careful planning required 
to make the income reach, and to keep the household in 
order. Then she visited the poor and sick of the parish, 
and received the many visitors. And with it all she 
found time to read. Her mind was open and alert for 
all good things. I am not sure that she was so very 
happy, but no complaints escaped her. In all she bore 
twelve children eight sons and four daughters. Ten 
of these children lived to be over seventy-five years of 
age. The fourth child that came to her they named 
Alfred 3& & 



74 



ALFRED TENNYSON 




ENNYSON'S education in early youth was 
very slight. His father laid down rules and 
gave out lessons, but the strictness of disci- 
pline never lasted more than two days at a 
time. The children ran wild and roamed the woods of 
Lincolnshire in search of all the curious things that the 
woods hold in store for boys. The father occasionally 
made stern efforts to " correct '* his sons. In the use of 
the birch he was ambidextrous. But I have noticed that 
in households where a strap hangs behind the kitchen- 
door, for ready use, it is not utilized so much for pure 
discipline as to ease the feelings of the parent. They say 
that expression is a need of the human heart; and I 
am also convinced that in many hearts there is a very 
strong desire at times to " thrash " some one. Who it 
is makes little difference, but children being helpless 
and the law giving us the right, we find gratification 
by falling upon them with straps, birch-rods, slippers, 
ferules, hairbrushes or apple-tree sprouts. 
No student of pedagogics now believes that the free 
use of the rod ever made a child "good " ; but all agree 
that it has often served as a safety-valve for a pent-up 
emotion in the parent or teacher. 

The father of Alfred Tennyson applied the birch, and 
the boy took to the woods, moody, resentful, solitary. 
There was good in this, for the lad learned to live 
within himself, and to be self-sufficient: to love the 
solitude, and feel a kinship with all the life that makes 

75 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



the groves and fields melodious. <J In Eighteen Hundred 
Twenty-eight, when nineteen years of age, Alfred was 
sent to Trinity College, Cambridge. He remained there 
three years, but left without a degree, and what was 
worse, with the ill-will of his teachers, who seemed to 
regard his as a hopeless case. He would n't study the 
books they wanted him to, and was never a candidate 
for academic distinctions. 

College life, however, has much to recommend it beside 
the curriculum. At Cambridge, Tennyson made the 
acquaintance of a group of young men who influenced 
his life profoundly. Kemble, Milnes, Brookfield and 
Spedding remained his lifelong friends; and as all good 
is reciprocal, no man can say how much these eminent 
men owe to the moody and melancholy Tennyson, or 
how much he owes to them. 



76 



ALFRED TENNYSON 




ENNYSON began to write verse very young. 
His first line is said to have been written at 
five, and he has told of going when thirteen 
years of age to visit his grandfather, and of 
presenting him a poem. The old gentleman gave him 
half a guinea with the remark, " This is the first money 
you ever made by writing poetry, and take my word for 
it, it will be the last! " When eighteen years of age, with 
his brother, Charles, he produced a thin book of thin 
verses S& 33 

We have the opinion of Coleridge to the effect that 
the only lines which have any merit in the book are 
those signed C. T. 3$ Charles became a clergyman of 
marked ability, married rich, and changed his name 
from Tennyson to Turner for economic and domestic 
reasons. Years afterward, when Alfred had become 
Poet Laureate, rumor has it he thought of changing 
the " Turner " back to ** Tennyson/* but was unable 
to bring it about. 

The only honor captured by Alfred at Cambridge was 
a prize for his poem, " Timbuctoo." The encourage- 
ment that this brought him, backed up by Arthur 
Hallam's declaiming the piece in public as a sort of 
defi to detractors caused him to fix his attention more 
assiduously on verse. He could write it was the only 
thing he could do and so he wrote. 
At Cambridge he was in the habit of reading his poetry 
to a little coterie called " The Apostles," and he always 

77 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



premised his reading with the statement that no 
criticism would be acceptable. 

The year he was twenty-one he published a small 
book called, " Poems, Chiefly Lyrical." The books went 
a-begging for many years; but times change, for a copy 
of this edition was sold by Quaritch in Eighteen Hun- 
dred Ninety-five for one hundred eighty pounds. The 
only piece in the book that seems to show genuine merit 
is ** Mariana. " 

Two years afterward a second edition, revised and 
enlarged, was brought out. This book contains " The 
Lady of Shalott," " The May Queen," "A Dream of 
Fair Women " and " The Lotus-Eaters." 
Beyond a few fulsome reviews from personal friends 
and a little surly mention from the tribe of Jeffrey, the 
volume attracted little or no attention. This coldness 
on the part of the public shot an atrabilarian tint 
through the ambition of our poet, and the fond hope of 
a success in literature faded from his mind. 
And then began what Stopford Brooke has called " the 
ten fallow years in the life of Tennyson/' But fallow 
years are not all fallow. The dark brooding night is as 
necessary for our life as the garish day. Great crops 
of wheat that feed the nations grow only where the 
winter's snow covers all as with a garment. And ever 
behind the mystery of sleep, and beneath the silence 
of the snow, Nature slumbers not nor sleeps. 
The withholding of quick recognition gave the mind of 
78 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



Tennyson an opportunity to ripen. Fate held him in 
leash that he might be saved for a masterly work, and 
all the time that he lived in semi-solitude and read and 
thought and tramped the fields, his soul was growing 
strong and his spirit was taking on the silken self-suf- 
ficient strength that marked his later days. This hiatus 
of ten years in the life of our poet is very similar to 
the thirteen fallow years in the career of Browning. 
These men crossed and recrossed each other's pathway, 
but did not meet for many years. What a help they 
might have been to each other in those years of doubt 
and seeming defeat! But each was to make his way 
alone 33 53 

Browning seemed to grow through society and travel, 
but solitude served the needs of Tennyson. 
"* There must be a man behind every sentence," said 
Emerson, After ten years of silence, when Tennyson 
issued his book, the literary world recognized the man 
behind it. Tennyson had grown as a writer, but more 
as a man. And after all, it is more to be a man than a 
poet. All who knew Tennyson, and have written of 
him, especially during those early years, begin with a 
description of his appearance. His looks did not belie 
the man. In intellect and in stature he was a giant. The 
tall, athletic form, the great shaggy head, the classic 
features, and the look of untried strength were all 
thrown into fine relief by the modesty, the half -embar- 
rassment, of his manner. 

79 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



To meet the poet was to acknowledge his power. No 
man can talk as wise as he can look, and Tennyson 
never tried to. His words were few and simple* 
Those who met him went away ready to back his 
lightest word. They felt there was a man behind the 
sentence 33 $& 

Carlyle, who was a hero-worshiper, but who usually 
limited his worship to those well dead and long gone 
hence, wrote of Tennyson to Emerson: " One of the 
finest-looking men in the world. A great shock of dusky 
hair; bright, laughing, hazel eyes; massive aquiline 
face, most massive, yet most delicate; of sallow brown 
complexion, almost Indian-looking, clothes cynically 
loose, free and easy, smokes infinite tobacco. His voice 
is musical, metallic, fit for loud laughter and piercing 
wail, and all that may lie between; speech and specu- 
lation free and plenteous; I do not meet in these late 
decades such company over a pipe! We shall see what 
he will grow to." 

And then again, writing to his brother John: "Some 
weeks ago, one night, the poet Tennyson and Matthew 
Arnold were discovered here sitting smoking in the 
garden. Tennyson had been here before, but was still 
new to Jane who was alone for the first hour or two 
of it. A fine, large-featured, dim-eyed, bronze-colored, 
shaggy-headed man is Alfred; dusty, smoky, free and 
easy; who swims outwardly and inwardly, with great 
composure, in an articulate element as of tranquil chaos 
80 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



and tobacco-smoke; great now and then when he does 
emerge; a most restful, brotherly, solid-hearted man/' 
<I The " English Idylls," put forth in Eighteen Hundred 
Forty-two, contained all the poems, heretofore pub- 
lished, that Tennyson cared to retain. It must be stated 
to the credit, or discredit, of America, that the only 
complete editions of Tennyson were issued by New 
York and Boston publishers. These men seized upon 
the immature early poems of Tennyson, and combining 
them with his later books, issued the whole in a style 
that tried men's eyes very proud of the fact that 
" this is the only complete edition/' etc. Of course they 
paid the author no royalty, neither did they heed his 
protests, and possibly all this prepared the way for 
frosty receptions of daughters of quick machine-made 
American millionaires, who journeyed to the Isle of 
Wight in after-days. Soon after the publication of 
*" English Idylls/' Alfred Tennyson moved gracefully, 
like a ship that is safely launched, into the first place 
among living poets. He was then thirty-three years of 
age, with just half a century, lacking a few months, yet 
to live. In all that half-century, with its many conflict- 
ing literary judgments, his title to first place was never 
seriously questioned. Up to Eighteen Hundred Forty- 
two, in his various letters, and through his close friends, 
we learn that Tennyson was sore pressed for funds. He 
had n't money to buy books, and when he traveled it 
was through the nuinificence of some kind kinsman. He 

81 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



even excuses himself from attending certain social 
functions on account of his lack of suitable raiment 
probably with a certain satisfaction. 
But when he tells of his poverty to Emily Sellwood, 
the woman of his choice, there is anguish in his cry. 
In fact, her parents succeeded in breaking off her rela- 
tions with Tennyson for a time, on account of his very 
uncertain prospects. His brothers, even those younger 
than he, had slipped into snug positions ** but Alfred 
dreams on with nothing special in sight/' Poetry, 
in way of a financial return, is not to be commended. 
Honors were coming Tennyson's way as early as Eight- 
een Hundred Forty-two, but it was not until Eighteen 
Hundred Forty-five, when a pension of two hundred 
pounds a year was granted him by the Government, 
that he began to feel easy. Even then there were various 
old scores to liquidate. 

The year Eighteen Hundred Fifty, when he was forty- 
one, has been called his " golden year," for in it occurred 
the publication of " In Memoriam," his appointment 
to the post of Poet Laureate, and his marriage. 
Emily Sellwood had waited for him all these years. 
She had been sought after, and had refused several 
good oilers from eligible widowers and others who 
pitied her sad plight and looked upon her as an old 
maid forlorn. But she was true to her love for Alfred. 
Possibly she had not been courted quite so assidu- 
ously as Tennyson's mother had been. When that dear 
82 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



old lady was past eighty she became very deaf, and 
the family often ventured to carry on conversations in 
her presence which possibly would have been modi- 
fied had the old lady been in full possession of her 
faculties. On a day as she sat knitting in the chimney- 
corner, one of her daughters in a burst of confidence 
to a visitor, said, " Why, before Mamma married Papa 
she had received twenty- three offers of marriage! " 33 
" Twenty-four, my dear twenty-four/* corrected the 
old lady as she shifted the needles, 
No one has ever claimed that Tennyson was an ideal 
lover. Surely he never could have been tempted to do 
what Browning did break up the peace of a house- 
hold by an elopement. His love was a thing of the 
head, weighed carefully in the scales of his judgment. 
His caution and good sense saved him from all Byronic 
excesses, or foolish alliances such as took Shelley cap- 
tive. He believed in law and order, and early saw that 
his interests lay in that direction. He belonged to the 
Church of England, and doubtless thought as he pleased, 
but ever expressed himself with caution. 
It is easy to accuse Tennyson of being insular to say 
that he is merely " the poet of England/' Had he been 
more he would have been less. World-poets have 
usually been revolutionists, and dangerous men who 
exploded at an unknown extent of concussion. None 
of them has been a safe man none respectable. Dante, 
Shakespeare, Milton, Hugo and Whitman were outcasts. 

83 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



Tennyson is always serene, sane and safe his lines 
breathe purity and excellence. He is the poet of religion, 
of the home and fireside, of established order, of truth, 
justice and mercy as embodied in law. 
Very early he became a close personal friend of Queen 
Victoria, and many of his lines ministered to her personal 
consolation. For fifty years Tennyson's life was one 
steady, triumphal march. He acquired wealth, such as 
no other English poet before him had ever gained; his 
name was known in every corner of the earth where 
white men journeyed, and at home he was beloved and 
honored. He died October Sixth, Eighteen Hundred 
Ninety-two, aged eighty-three, and for him the Nation 
mourned, and with deep sincerity the Queen spoke of 
his demise as a poignant, personal sorrow. 



84 



ALFRED TENNYSON 




T was at Cambridge lie met Arthur Hallam 
Arthur Hallam, immortal and remembered 
alone for being the comrade and friend of 
Tennyson 33 3& 
Alfred took his friend Arthur to his home in Lincoln- 
shire one vacation, and we know how Arthur became 
enamored of Tennyson's sister Emily, and they were 
betrothed. Together, Tennyson and Hallam made a 
trip through France and the Pyrenees. 
Carlyle and Milburn, the blind preacher, once sat 
smoking in the little arbor back of the house in Cheyne 
Row. They had been talking of Tennyson, and after a 
long silence Carlyle knocked the ashes out of his pipe, 
and with a grunt said: " Ha! Death is a great blessing 
the joyousest blessing of all! Without death there 
would ha' been no * In Memoriam/ no Hallam, and 
like enough no Tennyson! " It is futile to figure what 
would have occurred had this or that not happened, 
since every act of life is a sequence. But that Carlyle 
and many others believed that the death of Hallam 
was the making of Tennyson, there is no doubt. Pos- 
sibly his soul needed just this particular amount of 
bruising in order to make it burst into undying song 
who knows! When Charles Kingsley was asked for 
the secret of his exquisite sympathy and fine imagina- 
tion, he paused a space, and then answered ** I had a 
friend/' The desire for friendship is strong in every 
human heart. We crave the companionship of those who 

85 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



can understand. The nostalgia of life presses, we sigh 
for " home/' and long for the presence of one who 
sympathizes with our aspirations, comprehends our 
hopes and is able to partake of our joys. A thought is 
not our own until we impart it to another, and the 
confessional seems a crying need of every human soul. 
<ff One can bear grief, but it takes two to be glad. 
We reach the Divine through some one, and by divid^ 
ing our joy with this one we double it, and come in 
touch with the Universal. The sky is never so blue, 
the birds never sing so blithely, our acquaintances are 
never so gracious, as when we are filled with love for 
some one. 

Being in harmony with one we are in harmony with all. 
<I The lover idealizes and clothes the beloved with vir- 
tues that exist only in his imagination. The beloved is 
consciously or unconsciously aware of this, and endeav- 
ors to fulfil the high ideal; and in the contemplation 
of the transcendent qualities that his mind has created, 
the lover is raised to heights otherwise unattainable, 
f Should the beloved pass from the earth while this con- 
dition of exaltation endures, the conception is indelibly 
impressed upon the soul, just as the last earthly view 
is said to be photographed upon the retina of the dead. 
The highest earthly relationship is, in its very essence, 
fleeting, for men are fallible, and living in a world 
where material wants jostle, and time and change 
play their ceaseless parts, gradual obliteration comes 
86 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



and disillusion enters. But the memory of a sweet 
affinity once fully possessed, and snapped by Fate at 
its supremest moment, can never die from out the 
heart. All other troubles are swallowed up in this, and 
if the individual is of too stern a fiber to be completely 
crushed into the dust, time will come bearing healing, 
and the memory of that once ideal condition will chant 
in the heart a perpetual eucharist. 
And I hope the world has passed forever from the 
nightmare of pity for the dead: they have ceased from 
their labors and are at rest. 

But for the living, when death has entered and removed 
the best friend, Fate has done her worst; the plummet 
has sounded the depths of grief, and thereafter nothing 
can inspire terror. At one fell stroke all petty annoy- 
ances and corroding cares are sunk into nothingness. 
The memory of a great love lives enshrined in undying 
amber. It affords a ballast 'gainst all the storms that 
blow, and although it lends an unutterable sadness, 
it imparts an unspeakable peace. Where there is this 
haunting memory of a great love lost, there are always 
forgiveness, charity and a sympathy that makes the 
man brother to all who suffer and endure. The individual 
himself is nothing: he has nothing to hope for, nothing 
to lose, nothing to win, and this constant memory of 
the high and exalted friendship that once was his is a 
nourishing source of strength; it constantly purifies the 
mind and inspires the heart to nobler living and diviner 

87 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



thinking. The man is in communication with Elemental 
Conditions 33 33 

To know an ideal friendship and to have it fade from 
your grasp and flee as a shadow before it is touched 
with the sordid breath of selfishness, or sullied by mis- 
understandings, is the highest good. And the constant 
dwelling in sweet, sad recollection on the exalted virtues 
of the one that has gone, tends to crystallize these very 
virtues in the heart of him who meditates them. The 
beauty with which love adorns its object becomes at 
last the possession of the one who loves. 
At the hour when the strong and helpful, yet tender 
and sympathetic, friendship of Alfred Tennyson and 
Arthur Hallam was at its height, there came a brief 
and abrupt word from Vienna to the effect that Arthur 
was dead, 

" In Vienna's fatal walls 
God's finger touched him and he slept! "* 

The shock of surprise, followed by duHxb, bitter grief, 
made an impression on the youthful mind of Tennyson 
that the sixty years which followed did not obliterate S& 
At first a numbness and a deadness came over his spirit, 
but this condition erelong gave way to a sweet con- 
templation of the beauties of character that his friend 
possessed, and he tenderly reviewed the gracious hours 
they had spent together. 
" In Memoriam " is not one poem; it is made up of 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



many " short swallow-flights of song that dip their 
wings in tears and skim away." There are one hundred 
thirty separate songs in all, held together by the silken 
thread of love for the poet's lost friend. 
Seventeen years were required for their evolution* 
Some people, misled by the title, possibly, think of 
these poems as a wail of grief for the dead, a vain cry 
of sorrow for the lost, or a proud parading of mourning 
millinery. Such views could not be more wholly wrong. 
<I To every soul that has loved and lost, to those who 
have stood by open graves, to all who have beheld the 
sun go down on less worth in the world, these songs 
are a victor's cry. They tell of love and life that rise 
phenix-like from the ashes of despair; of doubt turned 
to faith; of fear which has become serenest peace. 
All poems that endure must have this helpful, uplifting 
quality. Without violence of direction they must be 
beacon-lights that gently guide stricken men and 
women into safe harbors. 

The " Invocation," written nearly a score of years 
after Hallam's death, reveals Tennyson's personal 
conquest of pain. His thought has broadened from the 
sense of loss into a stately march of conquest over 
death for the whole human race. The sharpness of 
grief has wakened the soul to the contemplation of 
sublime ideas truth, justice, nobility, honor, and the 
sense of beauty as shown in all created things. The 
man once loved a person now his heart goes out to 

89 



ALFRED TENNYSON 



the universe. The dread of death is gone, and he calmly 
contemplates his own end and waits the summons 
without either impatience or fear. He realizes that 
death itself is a manifestation of life that it is as 
natural and just as necessary. 

" Sunset and evening star 

And one clear call for me, 
And may there be no moaning of the bar 
When I put out to sea/' 

The desire for sympathy and the wish for friendship 
are in his heart, but the fever of unrest and the spirit 
of revolt are gone. His heart, his hope, his faith, his 
Jif e, are freely laid on the altar of Eternal Love. 



ROBERT BURNS 




ROBERT BURNS 



TO JEANNIE 

Come, let me take thee to my breast, 
And pledge we ne'er shall sunder; 

And I shall spurn, as vilest dust, 
The warld's wealth and grandeur. 

And do I hear my Jeannie own 
That equal transports move her? 

I ask for dearest life, alone, 
That I may live to love her. 

Thus in my arms, wi' a' thy charms, 
I clasp my countless treasure; 

I '11 seek nae mair o* heaven to share 
Than sic a moment's pleasure. 

And by thy een, sae bonnie blue, 

I swear I 'm thine for ever: 
And on thy lips I seal my vow, 

And break it shall I never. 

Robert Bums 



ROBERT BURNS 




HE business of Robert Burns was 
love-making. 

All love is good, but some kinds of 
love are better than others. Through 
Burns' penchant for falling in love 
we have his songs. A Burns bibliog- 
raphy is simply a record of his 
love-affairs, and the spasms of re- 
pentance that followed his lapses are made manifest in 
religious verse. 

Poetry is the very earliest form of literature, and is the 
natural expression of a person in love; and I suppose we 
might as well admit the fact at once that without love 
there would be no poetry. 

Poetry is the bill and coo of sex. All poets are lovers, and 
all lovers, either actual or potential, are poets. Potential 
poets are the people who read poetry; and so without 
lovers the poet would never have a market for his wares. 
f If you have ceased to be moved by religious emotion; 
if your spirit is no longer exalted by music, and you do 
not linger over certain lines of poetry, it is because the 
love-instinct in your heart has withered to ashes of 
roses. It is idle to imagine Bobby Burns as a staid 
member of the Kirk; had he been so, there would now 
be no Bobby Burns, The literary ebullition of Robert 
Burns (he himself has told us) began shortly after he 

93 



ROBERT BURNS 



had reached the age of indiscretion; and the occasion 
was his being paired in the hayfield, according to the 
Scottish custom, with a bonnie lassie. This custom of 
pairing still endures, and is what the students of sociol- 
ogy call an expeditious move. The Scotch are great 
economists the greatest in the world. Adam Smith, 
the father of the science of economics, was a Scotchman; 
and Draper, author of " A History of Civilization," 
flatly declares that Adam Smith's " Wealth of Nations " 
has influenced the people of Earth for good more than 
any other book ever written save none. 
The Scotch are great conservators of energy. 
The practise of pairing men and women in the hayfield 
gets the work done. One man and one woman going 
down the grass-grown path afield might linger and dally 
by the way. They would never make hay, but a company 
of a dozen or more men and women would not only 
reach the field, but do a lot of work. In Scotland the 
hay-harvest is short when the grass is in bloom, just 
right to make the best hay, it must be cut. And so the 
men and women, the girls and boys, sally forth. It is 
a jolly picnic-time, looked forward to with fond antici- 
pation, and after recalled with sweet, sad memories, 
or otherwise, as the case may be. 

But they all make hay while the sun shines, and count 
it joy. Liberties are allowed during haying-time that 
otherwise would be declared scandalous; during haying- 
time the Kirk waives her censor's right, and priest 
94 



ROBERT BURNS 



and people mingle ^joyously. Wives are not jealous 
during hay-harvest, and husbands never faultfinding, 
because they each get even by allowing a mutual 
license. In Scotland during haying-time every married 
man works alongside of some other man's wife. To the 
psychologist it is somewhat curious how the desire 
for propriety is overridden by a stronger desire the 
desire for the shilling. The Scotch farmer says, " Any- 
thing to get the hay in " and by loosening a bit the 
strict bands of social custom, the hay is harvested 3$ 
In the hay-harvest the law of natural selection holds; 
partners are often arranged for weeks in advance; and, 
trysts continue year after year. Old lovers meet, touch 
hands in friendly scuffle for a fork, drink from the same, 
jug, recline at noon and eat lunch in the shade of a, 
friendly stack, and talk to heart's content, sweetening; 
the labor of the long summer day. 
Of course this joyousness of the haying-time is not 
wholly monopolized by the Scotch. Have n't you seen, 
the jolly haying parties in Southern Germany, France* 
Switzerland and the Tyrol? How the bright costumes 
of the men and the jaunty attire of the women gleam 
in the glad sunshine! 

But the practise of pairing is carried to a degree of 
perfection in Scotland that I have not noticed else- 
where. Surely it is a great economic scheme! It is like 
that invention of a Connecticut man, which utilizes. 
the ebb and flow of the ocean-tic^ t& tawn a gristmilU 

95 



ROBERT BURNS 



And it seems queer that no one has ever attempted to 
utilize the waste of dynamic force involved in the main- 
tenance of the Company Sofa. 

In Ayrshire, I have started out with a haying party of 
twenty ten men and ten women at six o'clock in the 
morning and worked until six at night. I never worked 
so hard, nor did so much. All day long there was a fire 
of jokes and jolly gibes, interspersed with song, while 
beneath all ran a gentle hum of confidential inter- 
change of thought. The man who owned the field was 
there to direct our efforts and urge us on in well-doing 
by merry raillery, threat, and joyous rivalry. 
The point I make is this we did the work. Take heed, 
ye Captains of Industry, and note this truth, that where 
men and women work together under right influences, 
much good is accomplished, and the work is pleasurable. 
Of course there are vinegar-faced philosophers who say 
that the Scotch custom of pairing young men and maid- 
ens in the hayfield is not without its effect on esoterics, 
also on vital statistics; and I 'm willing to admit there 
may be danger in the scheme. But life is a dangerous 
business anyway few indeed get out of it alive! S& 



96 



ROBERT BURNS 




]URNS succeeded in his love-making and suc- 
ceeded in poetry, but at everything else he 
was a failure. He failed as a farmer, a father, 
a friend, in society, as a husband, and in 
business. <J From his twenty-third year his days were 
passed in sinning and repenting. 

Poetry and love-making should be carried on with 
caution: they form a terrific tax on life's forces. Most 
poets die young, not because the gods especially love 
them, but because life is a bank-account, and to wipe 
out your balance is to have your checks protested. 
The excesses of youth are drafts payable at maturity. 
Chatterton dead at eighteen, Keats at twenty-six, 
Shelley at thirty-three, Byron at thirty-six, Poe at 
forty, and Burns at thirty-seven, are the rule. When 
drafts made by the men mentioned became due, there 
was no balance to their credit and Charon beckoned* 
<I Most life-insurance companies now ask the appli- 
cant this question, " Do you write poetry to excess? " 
Shakespeare, to be sure, clung to life until he was 
fifty-three, but this seems to be the limit. Dickens and 
Thackeray, their candles well burned out, also died 
under sixty. Of course, I know that Browning, Tenny- 
son, Morris and Bryant lived to a fair old age, but this 
was on borrowed time, for in the early life of each 
there was a hiatus of from ten to eighteen years, when 
the men never wrote a line, nor touched a drop of 
anything, bravely eschewing all honey from Hymettus. 

97 



ROBERT BURNS 



Then the four men last named were all happily married, 
and married life is favorable to longevity, but not to 
poetry. As a rule only single men, or those unhappily 
mated, make love and write poetry. Men happily 
married make money, cultivate content, and evolve an 
aldermanic front; but love and poetry are symptoms of 
unrest. Thus is Emerson's proposition partially proven, 
that in life all things are bought and must be paid for 
with a price even success and happiness. 



98 



ROBERT BURNS 




URNS once explained to Doctor Moore that 
the first fine, careless rapture of his song was 
awakened into being when he was sixteen 
years old, by " a bonnie sweet sonsie lass " 
whom we now know as ** Handsome NelL" Her other 
name to us is vapor, and history is silent as to her life- 
pilgrimage. Whether she lived to realize that she had 
first given voice to one of the great singers of earth of 
this we are also ignorant. She was one year younger than 
Burns, and little more than a child when she and 
Bobby lagged behind the troop of tired haymakers, 
and walked home, hand in hand, in the gloaming. Here 
is one of the stanzas addressed to " Handsome Nell ": 

" She dresses all so clean and neat, 
Both decent and genteel, 
And then there 's something in her gait 
Makes any dress look weel." 

And how could Nell then ever guess why her cheeks 
burned scarlet, and why she was so sorry when haying- 
time was over? She was sweet, innocent, artless, and 
their love was very natural, tender, innocent. It 's 
a pity that all loves can not remain in just that idyllic, 
milkmaid stage, where the girls and boys awaken in 
the early morning with the birds, and hasten forth 
barefoot across the dewy fields to find the cows. But 
love never tarries, Love is progressive; it can not stand 
still. I have heard of the " passiveness " of woman's 

99 



ROBERT BURNS 



love, but the passive woman is only one who does not 
love she merely consents to have affection lavished 
upon her. When I hear of a passive woman, I always 
think of the befuddled sailor who once saw one of those 
dummy dress-frames, all duly clothed in flaming bom- 
bazine (I think it was bombazine) in front of a cloth- 
ing establishment. The sailor, mistaking the dummy 
for a near and dear lady friend, embraced the wire 
apparatus and imprinted a resounding smack on the 
chaste plaster-of-Paris cheek. Meeting the sure-enough 
lady shortly after, he upbraided her for her cold pas- 
sivity on the occasion named. 

A passive woman one who consents to be loved 
should seek occupation among those worthy firms who 
warrant a fit in ready-made gowns, or money refunded. 
<ILove is progressive it hastens onward like the 
brook hurrying to the sea. They say that love is blind: 
love may be short-sighted, or inclined to strabismus, 
or may see things out of their true proportion, mag- 
nifying pleasant little ways into seraphic virtues, but 
love is not really blind the bandage is never so tight 
but that it can peep. The only kind of love that is really 
blind and deaf is Platonic love. Platonic love has n't 
the slightest idea where it is going, and so there are 
surprises and shocks in store for it. The other kind, 
with eyes wide open, is better. I know a man who 
has tried both. Love is progressive. All things that 
live should progress. To stand still is to retreat, and 
100 



ROBERT BURNS 



to retreat is death. Love dies, of course. All things 
die, or become something else. And often they become 
something else by dying. Behold the eternal Paradox! 
The love that evolves into a higher form is the better 
kind. Nature is intent on evolution, yet of the myriads 
of spores that cover earth, most of them are doomed 
to death; and of the countless rays sent out by the 
sun, the number that fall athwart this planet are in- 
finitesimal. Edward Carpenter calls attention to the 
fact that disappointed love that is, love that is ** lost " 
often affects the individual for the highest good. 
But the real fact is, nothing is ever lost. Love in its 
essence is a spiritual emotion, and its office seems to 
be an interchange of thought and feeling; but often 
thwarted in its object, it becomes general, transforms 
itself into sympathy, and embracing a world, goes out 
to and blesses all mankind. 

Very, very rare is the couple that has the sense and 
poise to allow passion just enough mulberry-leaves, so 
it will spin a beautiful silken thread, out of which a 
Jacob's ladder can be constructed, reaching to the 
Infinite. Most lovers in the end wear love to a fringe, 
and there remains no ladder with angels ascending and 
descending not even a dream of a ladder. Instead of 
the silken ladder on which one can mount to Heaven, 
there is usually a dark, dank road to Nowhere, over 
which is thrown a package of letters and trinkets, all 
fastened round with a white ribbon, tied in a lover's 

101 



ROBERT BURNS 



knot. The many loves of Robert Burns all ended in a 
black jumping-off place, and before he had reached high 
noon, he tossed over the last bundle of white-ribboned 
missives and tumbled in after them. The life of Burns 
is a tragedy, through which are interspersed sparkling 
scenes of gaiety, as if to retrieve the depth of bitterness 
that would otherwise be unbearable. Go ask Mary 
Morison, Highland Mary, Agnes McLehose, Betty 
Alison, and Jean Armour! 



102 



ROBERT BURNS 




HE poems of Robert Burns fall easily into f our 
divisions 3& 53 

First, those written while he was warmly 
wooing the object of his affection. 
Second, those written after he had won her* 
Third, those written when he had failed to win her 3& 
Fourth, those written when he felt it his duty to write, 
and really had nothing to say. 

The first-named were written because he could not 
help it, and are, for the most part, rarely excellent. 
They are joyous, rapturous, sprightly, dancing, and 
filled with references to sky, clouds, trees, fruit, gram, 
birds and flowers. Birds and flowers, by the way, are 
peculiarly lovers' properties. The song and the plumage 
of birds, and the color and perfume of flowers are aU 
distinctly sex manifestations. Robert Burns sang his 
songs just as the bird wings and sings, and for the same 
reason. Sex holds first place in the thought of Nature; 
and sex in the minds of men and women holds a much 
larger place than most of us are willing to admit. All 
religious emotion and all art are born of the sex instinct, 
f Burns' poems of the second variety, written after 
he had won her, are touched with religious emotion, 
or filled with vain regret and deep remorse, as the 
case may be, all owing to the quality and kind of suc- 
cess achieved, and the influence of the Dog-Star. 
Burns wrote several deeply religious poems. Now, 
men are very seldom really religious and contrite, 

103 



ROBERT BURNS 



except after an excess. Following a debauch a man 
signs the pledge, vows chastity, writes fervently of 
asceticism and the need of living in the spirit and not 
in the senses. Good pictures show best on a dark back- 
ground. Men talk most about things they do not possess. 
<I " The Cotter's Saturday Night," perhaps the most 
quoted of any of Burns' poems, is plainly the result of 
a terrible tip to t' other side. Bobby had gone so far in 
the direction of Venusburg that he resolved on getting 
back, and living thereafter a staid and proper life S3 
In order to reform you must have an ideal, and the 
ideal of Burns, on the occasion of having exhausted 
all capacity for sin, is embodied in the " Saturday 
Night/' It is all a beautiful dream. The real Scottish 
cotter is quite another kind of person. The religion of 
the live cotter is well seasoned with fear, malevolence 
and absurd dogmatism. The amount of love, patience, 
excellence and priggishness shown in " The Cotter's 
Saturday Night " never existed, except in a poet's 
imagination. In stanza Number Ten of that particular 
poem is a bit of unconscious autobiography that might 
as well ha* been omitted; but in letting it stand, Burns 
was loyal to the thought that surged through his brain. 
<I People who are not scientific in their speech often 
spqfrk of the birds as being happy. My opinion is that 
birds are not any more happy than men probably not 
as much so. Many birds, like the English sparrow and 
the blue jay, quarrel all day long. Come to think of it, I 
104 



ROBERT BURNS 



believe that man is happier than the birds. He has a 
sense of remorse, and this suggests reformation, and 
from the idea of reformation comes the picturing of 
an ideal. This exercise of the imagination is pleasure, 
for indeed there is a certain satisfaction in every form 
of exercise of the faculties. There is a certain pleasure 
in pain: for pain is never all pain. And sin surely is not 
wholly bad, if through it we pass into a higher life 
the life of the spirit. 

Anything is better than the Dead Sea of neutral noth- 
ingness, wherein a man merely avoids sin by doing 
nothing and being nothing. The stirring of the imagi- 
nation by sorrow for sin, sometimes causes the soul 
to wing a far-reaching upward flight. 
Asceticism is often only a form of sensuality: the man 
finds satisfaction in overcoming the flesh. And wher- 
ever you find asceticism you find potential passion a 
smoldering volcano held in check by a devotion to 
duty; and a gratification is oft found in fidelity. 
The moral and religious poems of Burns were written 
in a desire to work off a fit of depression, and make 
amends for folly. They are sincere and often very 
excellent. Great preachers have often been great sinners, 
and the sermons that have moved men most are often 
a direct recoil from sin on the part of the preacher. 
Remorse finds play in preaching repentance. When a man 
talks much about a virtue, be sure that he is clutching 
for it. Temperance fanatics are men with a taste for 

105 



ROBERT BURNS 



strong drink, trying hard to keep sober. The moral 
and religious poems of Robert Burns are not equal to 
his love-songs. The love-songs are free, natural, un- 
trammeled and unrestrained; while his religious poems 
have a vein of rotten warp running through them in 
the way of affectation and pretense. From this I infer 
that sin is natural, and remorse partially so. In Burns* 
moral poems the author tries to win back the favor of 
respectable people, which he had forfeited. In them 
there is a violence of direction; and all violence of 
direction all endeavors to please and placate certain 
people is fatal to an artist. You must work to please 
only yourself. 

Work to please yourself and you develop and strengthen 
the artistic conscience. Cling to that and it shall be 
your mentor in times of doubt: you need no other. 
There are writers who would scorn to write a muddy 
line, and would hate themselves for a year and a day 
should they dilute their honest thought with the plat- 
itudes of the fear-ridden. Be yourself and speak your 
mind today, though it contradict ail you have said 
before. And above all, in art, work to please yourself 
that Other Self that stands over and behind you, look- 
ing over your shoulder, watching your every act, word 
and deed knowing your every thought. Michelangelo 
would not paint a picture on order. " I have a critic 
who is more exacting than you," said Meissonier *' it 
is my Other Self/' 
106 



ROBERT BURNS 



Rosa Bonheur painted pictures just to please her 
Other Self, and never gave a thought to any one 
else, nor wanted to think of any one else, and having 
painted to please herself, she made her appeal to 
the great Common Heart of humanity the tender, 
the noble, the receptive, the earnest, the sympathetic, 
the lovable. That is why Rosa Bonheur stands first 
among women artists of all time: she worked to please 
her Other Self. 

That is the reason Rembrandt, who lived at the saioae 
time Shakespeare lived, is today without a rival in 
portraiture. He had the courage to make an enemy. 
When at work he never thought of any one but his 
Other Self, and so he infused soul into every canvas. 
The limpid eyes look down into yours from the walls 
and tell of love, pity, earnestness and deep sincerity* 
Man, like Deity, creates in his own image, and when 
fee portrays some one else, he pictures himself, too 
this provided his work is Art. If it is but an imitation 
of something seen somewhere, or done by some one 
else, to please a patron with money, no breath of life 
has been breathed into its nostrils, and it is nothing, 
save possibly dead perfection no more. 
Is it easy to please your Other Self? Try it for a day. 
Begin tomorrow morning and say: *' This day I will 
live as becomes a man. I will be filled with good-cheer 
and courage. I will do what is right; 1 will work for 
the highest; I will put soul into every hand-grasp* 

107 



ROBERT BURNS 



every smile, every expression into all my work. I will 
live to satisfy my Other Self/* 
Do you think it is easy? Try it for a day. 
Robert Burns wrote some deathless lines lines written 
out of the freshness of his heart, simply to please him- 
self, with no furtive eye on Dumfries, Edinburgh, the 
Kirk, or the Unco Guid of Ayrshire; and these are the 
lines that have given him his place in the world of letters. 
*S The other day I was made glad by finding that John 
Burroughs, Poet and Prophet, says that the male thrush 
sings to please himself, out of pure delight; and pleasing 
himself, he pleases his mate. *' The female," says Bur- 
roughs, " is always pleased with a male that is pleased 
with himself/* 

The various controversial poems (granting for argu- 
ment's sake that controversy is poetic) were written 
when Burns was smarting under the sense of defeat. 
These show a sharp insight into the heart of things, and 
a lively wit, but are not sufficient foundation on which 
to build a reputation. Ali Baba can do as well. Consider- 
ing the fact that twice as many people make pilgrimages 
to the grave of Burns as visit the dust of Shakespeare, 
and that his poems are on the shelves of every library, 
his name now needs no defense. The ores are very 
seldom found pure, and if even the work of Deity is 
composite, why should we be surprised that man, His 
creature, should express himself in a varying scale of 
excellence! 
108 



ROBERT BURNS 




HERE was nothing of Jack Falstaff about 
Francis Schlatter, whose whitened bones 
were found amid the alkali dust of the desert, 
a few years ago dead in an endeavor to do 
without meat and drink for forty days. 
Schlatter purported, and believed, that he was the 
reincarnation of the Messiah. Letters were sent to him, 
addressed simply, " Jesus Christ, Denver, Colorado/* 
and he walked up to the General-Delivery window and 
asked for them with a confidence, we are told, that 
relieved the postmaster of a grave responsibility. 
Schlatter was no mere ordinary pretender, working on 
the superstitions of shallow-pated people. He lived up 
to his belief took no money, avoided notoriety when 
he could; and the proof of his sincerity lies in the fact 
that he died a victim to it. 

Herbert Spencer has said all about the Messianic 
Instinct that there is to say, save this the Messianic 
Instinct first had its germ in the heart of a woman. 
Every woman dreams of the coming of the Ideal Man 
the man who will give her protection, even to giving 
up his life for her, and vouchsafe peace to her soul 
I am told by a noted Bishop of the Catholic Church 
that many women who become nuns are prompted to 
take their vows solely through the occasion of an 
unrequited love. They become the bride of the Church 
and find their highest joy in following the wiU of Christ. 
He is their only Spouse and Master. 

109 



ROBERT BURNS 



The terms of endearment one hears at prayer-meetings, 
" Blessed Jesus/' " Dear Jesus/* * c Living Jesus/* 
" Elder Brother/' " Patient, gentle Jesus/' etc., were 
first used by women in an ecstasy of religious trans- 
port. And the thought of Jesus as a loving, " personal 
Savior/' would die from the face of the earth did not 
women keep it alive. The religious nature and the 
sex nature are closely akin: no psychologist can tell 
where the one ends and the other begins. 
There may be wooden women in the world, and of 
these I will not speak, but every strong, pulsing, feel- 
ing, thinking woman goes through life, seeking the 
Ideal Man. Whether she is married or single, rich or 
poor, old or young, every new man she meets is inter- 
esting to her, because she feels in some mysterious way 
that possibly he is the One. 

Of course, I know that every good man, too, seeks the 
Ideal Woman but that deserves another chapter S& 
The only woman in whose heart there is not the live, 
warm, Messianic Instinct is the wooden woman, and 
the one who believes she has already found him. But 
this latter is holding an illusion that soon vanishes 
with possession. 

That pale, low-voiced, gentle and insane man, Francis 
Schlatter, was followed at times by troops of women. 
These women believed in him and loved him in dif- 
ferent ways, of course, and with passion varying accord- 
ing to temperament and the domestic environment 
110 



ROBERT BURNS 



already existing. To love deeply is a matter of propin- 
quity and opportunity. 

One woman, whom " The Healer " had cured of a 
lingering disease, loved this man with a wild, mad, 
absorbing passion. Chance gave her the opportunity. He 
came to her house, cold, hungry, homeless, sick. She 
fed him, warmed him, looked into his liquid eyes, sat 
at his feet and listened to his voice. She loved him 
and partook of his every mental delusion. 
This woman now waits and watches in her mountain 
home for his return. She knows the coyotes and buz- 
zards picked the scant flesh from his starved frame, 
but she says: " He promised he would come back to 
me, and he will. I am waiting for him here/* 
This woman writes me long letters from her solitude, 
telling me of her hopes and plans. Just why all the 
cranks in the United States should write me letters, I 
do not know, but they do perhaps there is a sort o* 
fellow-feeling. This woman may write letters to others, 
just as she does to me. Of this I do not know, but 
surely I would not thus make public the heart-tragedy 
told me in a private letter, were it not that the woman 
herself has printed a pamphlet, letting forth her faith 
and veiling only those things into which it is not our 
right to pry. 

This Mary Magdalene believes her lover was the 
Chosen Son of God, and that the Father will reclothe 
the Son in a new garment of flesh and send him back 

111 



ROBERT BURNS 



to his beloved. So she watches and waits, and dresses 
herself to receive him, and at night places a lighted 
lantern in the window to guide the way. 
She watches and waits. 

Other women wait for footsteps that will never come, 
and listen for a voice that will never be heard. All 
round the world there is a sisterhood of such. Some, 
being wise, lose themselves in loving service to others 
in useful work. But this woman, out in the wilds of 
New Mexico, hugs her sorrow to her heart, and feeds 
her passion by recounting it, and watches away the 
leaden hours, crying aloud to all who will listen: " He 
is not dead he is not dead! he will come back to me! 
He promised it he will come back to me! This long, 
dreary waiting is only a test of my loyalty and Jove! 
I will be patient, for he will come back to me! He will 
come back to me! " 

This world would be a sorry place if most men con- 
ducted their lives on the Robert Burns plan. Burns 
was affectionate, tender, generous and kind; but he 
was not wise. He never saw the future, nor did he 
know that life is a sequence, and that if you do this, it 
is pretty sure to lead to that. His loves were largely of 
the earth. 

Excess was a part of his wayward, undisciplined nature; 
and that constant tendency to put an enemy in his 
mouth to steal away his brains, bound him at last, 
hand and foot. His old age could never have been 
112 



ROBERT BURNS 



frosty, but kindly it would have been babbling, irrita- 
ble, senile, sickening. Death was kind and reaped him 
young. Sex was the rock on which Robert Burns split. 
He seemed to regard pleasure-seeking as the prime end 
of life, and in this he was not so very far removed from 
the prevalent " civilized " society notion of marriage. 
But it is a phantasmal idea, and makes a mock of 
marriage, serving the satirist his excuse. 
To a great degree the race is yet barbaric, and as a 
people we fail utterly to touch the hem of the garment 
of Divinity. We have been mired in the superstition 
that sex is unclean, and therefore honesty and free 
expression in love matters have been tabued. 
But the day will yet dawn when we will see that it 
takes two to generate thought; that there is the male 
man and the female man, and only where these two 
walk together hand in hand is there a perfect sanity 
and a perfect physical, moral and spiritual health. 
We reach infinity through the love of one, and loving 
this one, we are in love with all. And this condition 
of mutual sympathy, trust, reverence, forbearance and 
gentleness that can exist between a man and a woman, 
gives the only hint of Heaven that mortals ever know* 
From the love of man for woman we guess the love of 
God, just as the scientist from a single bone constructs 
the skeleton aye ! and then clothes it with a complete 
garment, ^f In their love-affairs women are seldom wise, 
or men just. How should we expect them to be when but 

~ 



ROBERT BURNS 



yesterday woman was a chattel and man a slave- 
owner ? Woman won by diplomacy that is to say, by 
trickery and untruth, and man had his way through 
force, and neither is quite willing to disarm. An amal- 
gamated personality is the rare exception, because 
neither Church, State nor Society yet fully recognizes 
the fact that spiritual comradeship and the marriage of 
the mind constitute the only Divine mating. Doctor 
Blacklock once said that Robert Burns had eyes like 
the Christ* Women who looked into those wide-open, 
generous orbs lost their hearts in the liquid depths 33 
In the natures of Robert Burns and Francis Schlatter 
there was little in common; but their experiences were 
alike in this: they were beloved by women. Behind 
him Burns left a train of weeping women a trail of 
broken hearts. And I can never think of him except as 
a mere youth '* Bobby Burns " one who never came 
into man's estate. In all his love-making he never 
seemed really to benefit any woman, nor did he avail 
himself of the many mental and spiritual excellencies 
of woman's nature, absorbing them into his own. He 
only played a devil's tattoo upon her emotions. 
If Burns knew anything of the beauty and inspiration 
of a high and holy friendship between a thinking man 
and a thinking woman, with mutual aims, ideals and 
ambitions, he never disclosed it. The love of a man for 
a maid, or a maid for a man, can never last, unless 
these two mutually love a third something. Then, as 
114 



ROBERT BURNS 



they are traveling the same way, they may move for- 
ward hand in hand, mutually sustained. The marriage 
of the mind is the only compact that endures. I love 
you because you love the things that I love. That man 
alone is great who utilizes the blessings that God pro- 
vides; and of these blessings no gift equals the gentle, 
trusting companionship of a good woman. 
So, having written thus far, I find that already I have 
reached the limit of my allotted space. 
In closing, it may not be amiss for me to state that 
Robert Burns was an Irish poet whose parents happened 
to be Scotch. He was born in Ayrshire in Seventeen 
Hundred Fifty-nine. He died in Seventeen Hundred 
Ninety-six, and was buried at Dumfries by the " gentle- 
man volunteers," in spite of his last solemn words 
" Don't let the Awkward Squad fire over my grave! " 
f His mother survived him thirty-eight years, passing 
out in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-four. Burns left four 
sons, each of whom was often pointed out as the son of 
his father but none of them was. 
This is all I think of, at present, concerning Robert 
Burns 3& For further facts I must refer the Gentle 
Reader to the " Encyclopedia Britannica," a compila- 
tion that I cheerfully recommend, it having been 
vouched for to me by a dear friend, a clergyman of 
East Aurora, who, the past year, perused the entire 
work, from A to Z, reading five hours a day: and there- 
fore is competent to speak. 

115 



JOHN MILTON 




JOHN MILTON 



Thus witk the year 
Seasons return; but not to me returns 
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn, 
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, 
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine; 
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark 
Surrounds me; from the cheerful ways of men 
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair 
Presented with a universal blank 
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased- 
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. 
So much the rather thou, Celestial Light, 
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers 
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence 
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell 
Of things invisible to mortal sight. 

Paradise Lo Book III 



JOHN MILTON 




HAKESPEARE and Milton lived at 
the same time, though the difference 
in their ages was such that we may 
not speak of them as contempo- 
raries. John Milton was eight years 
old when William Shakespeare died. 
The Miltons lived in Bread Street, 
and out of the back garret-window 
house could catch a glimpse of the Globe 



of their 
Theater 53 53 

The father of John Milton might have known Shake- 
speare might have dined with him at the "Mermaid," 
played skittles with him on Hampstead Heath, fished 
with him from the same boat in the river at Richmond ; 
and then John Milton, the lawyer, might have discreetly 
schemed for passes to the " Globe " and gone with his 
boy John, Junior, to see " As You Like It " played, with 
the Master himself in the role of old Adam. 
Bread Street was just off Cheapside, where the Mermaid 
Tavern stood, and where Beaumont, Fletcher, Ben 
Jonson and other roysterers often lingered and made 
the midnight echo with their mirth. In all probability, 
John Milton, Senior, father of John Milton, Junior, 
knew Shakespeare well. But the Miltons owned their 
home; were rich, influential, eminently respectable; 
attended Saint Giles* Church, and really did n't care 

119 



JOHN MILTON 

to cultivate the society of play-actors who kept bad 
hours, slept in the theater, and had meal-tickets at half 
a dozen taverns. 

There were six children born into the Milton family, 
three of whom died in infancy. Of the survivors, the 
eldest was Anne, the second John, the third Christopher. 
<S Anne was strong, robust and hearty; John was slender, 
pale, with dreamy, dark gray eyes and a head too big 
for his body; Christopher was so-so. And, in passing, 
it is well to explain, once for all, that Christopher 
made his way straight to the front in life, taking up 
his father's business and being appointed a Court 
Officer. Thence he was promoted to the Woolsack, 
became rich, cultivated a double chin, was knighted, 
and passed out full of honors. The chief worriment 
and source of shame in the life of Sir Christopher Milton 
came from the unseemly conduct of his brother John, 
who was much given to producing political and theo- 
logical pamphlets. And once in desperation Sir Christo- 
pher Milton requested John Milton to change his 
family name, that the tribe of Milton might be saved 
the disgrace of having in it "a traducer of the State, 
an enemy of the King, and a falsifier of Truth/' Sir 
Christopher Milton was an excellent and worthy man, 
and I must apologize for not giving him more attention 
at this time; but lack of space forbids. 
Sickly boys who are wise beyond their years are ever 
the pets of big sisters, and the object of loving, jealous, 
120 



JOHN MILTON 



zealous care on the part of their mothers. John Milton 
talked like an oracle while yet a child, and one biog- 
rapher records that even as a babe he sometimes 
mildly reproved his parents for levity. 
He was a precocious child, and have we not been told 
that precocity does not fulfill its promises? But this 
boy was an exception. He was incarnated into a family 
that prized music, poetry, philosophy, and yet held 
fast to the Christian faith. His father set psalms to 
music, his sister wrote madrigals, and his mother played 
sweet strains on a harp to waken him at morningtide. 
The entire household united in a devotion to poetry 
and art. Possibly this atmosphere of high thinking was 
too rarefied for real comfort the gravity of the situa- 
tion being sustained only by a stern effort. 
But no matter father, mother and sister joined hands 
to make the pale, handsome boy a prodigy of learning: 
one that would surprise the world and leave his impress 
on the time. 
And they succeeded. 

Of the three Milton children that passed away in child- 
hood, I can not but think that they succumbed to over- 
training, being crammed quite after the German custom 
of stuffing geese so as to produce that delicious dis- 
eased tidbit known to gourmets as pate de foies gras* 
John Milton stood the cramming process like a true 
hero. His parents set him apart for the Church there- 
fore he must be learned in books, familiar with languages, 

121 



JOHN MILTON 



versed in theories. They desired that he should have 
knowledge, which they did not know is quite a different 
thing from wisdom. 

So the boy had a private tutor in Greek and Latin at 
nine years of age, and even then began to write verse. 
At ten years of age his father had the lad's portrait 
painted by that rare and thrifty Dutchman, Cornelius 
Jansen. We have this picture now, and it reveals the 
pale, grave, winsome face with the flowing curls that 
we so easily recognize. 

No expense or pains were spared in the boy's educa- 
tion. The time was divided up for him as the hours are 
for a soldier. One tutor after another took him in hand 
during the day; but the change of study and a glad 
respite of an hour in the morning and the same in the 
afternoon, for music, bore him up. 

He was the pride of his parents, the delight of his 
tutors 33 & 

Three years were spent at Saint Paul's School; then he 
was sent to Cambridge, From there he wrote to his 
mother, " I am penetrating into the inmost recesses 
of the Muses; climbing high Olympus, visiting the 
green pastures of Parnassus, and drinking deep from 
Pierian Springs/' 

This is terrible language for a child of fourteen. A boy 
who should talk like that now would be regarded with 
anxious concern by his loving parents. The present 
age is incredulous of the Infant Phenomenon. And no 
122 



JOHN MILTON 



fond parent must for a moment imagine that by follow- 
ing the system laid out for the education of John Milton 
can a John Milton be produced. The Miltonian cur- 
riculum, if used today, would be sufficient ground for 
action on the part of the Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Children. 

But John Milton, though but a weak-eyed boy with a 
chronic headache, had a deal of whipcord fiber in his 
make-up. He stood the test and grubbed at his books 
every night until the clock tolled twelve. He was born 
at a peculiar time, being a child of the Reformation 
married to the Renaissance. The toughness and grim- 
ness of Calvin were united in him with the tenderness 
of Erasmus. From out of the Universal Energy, of 
which we are particles, he had called into his being 
qualities so diverse that they seemed never to have been 
before or since united in one person. 
He remained at Cambridge seven years. The beauty 
of his countenance had increased so that he was as 
one set apart. His finely chiseled features, framed in 
their flowing curls, challenged the admiration of every 
person he met. A writer of the time described him as 
" a grave and sober person, but one not wholly ignorant 
of his own parts." 

There is a sly touch in this sentence that sheds light 
upon " The Lady of Christ's." John Milton was a bit 
of a poseur, as Schopenhauer declares all great men 
Eire and ever have been. With the masterly mind goes 

123 



JOHN MILTON 

a touch of the fakir or charlatan. Milton knew his 
power he gloried in this bright blade of the intellect. 
He was handsome and he knew it. And yet we will 
not cavil at his velvet coats, or laces, or the golden 
chain that adorned his slender, shapely person. These 
things were only the transient, springtime adornments 
that passion puts forth. 

And yet I see that one writer mentions the chaste and 
ascetic quality of Milton's early life as proof of a cold 
and measured nature. Seemingly the writer does not 
know that intense feeling often finds a gratification in 
asceticism, and that vows of chastity are proof of pas- 
sion. There are many ways of working off one's surplus 
energy Milton was married to his work. He traversed 
the vast fields of Classic Literature, read in the original 
from Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, French, Spanish, Latin and 
Italian. He delved into abstruse mathematics, studied 
music as a science, and labored at theology. In fact, hq 
came to know so much of all religions that he had faith 
in none. He seemed to view religion in the cold, calcu- 
lating light of a syllogistic problem not as a warm, 
pulsing motive in life. His real religion was music, a fact 
he once frankly acknowledged. 

On the pinions of music he was carried out and away 
beyond the boundaries of time and space, and there 
he found that rest for his soul, without which he would 
have sunk to earth and been covered by the kindly, 
drifting leaves of oblivion. 
124 



JOHN MILTON 



For some, the secrets of music, the wonder of love, 
and the misty, undefined prayers of the soul constitute 
true religion. When you place a creed in a crucible 
and afterward study the particles on a slide encased 
in balsam, you are apt to get a residuum or something 
a something that does not satisfy the heart. 
Milton got well acquainted with theology. It was inter- 
esting, but not what he had supposed. He came to 
regard the Church as a useful part of the Government 
divine, of course, as all good things are divine. But 
to become a priest and play a part he would not do it* 
He was honest stubbornly honest. 
Seven years he had been at Cambridge, and now that 
he was just ready to step into a * c living " -right in the 
line of promotion of which his beauty and intellect 
tokened a sure presage he balked. 
It was a great blow to his parents. His mother pleaded; 
his father threatened; but they soon perceived that 
this son they had brought forth had a will stronger 
than theirs. Their fond dreams of his preferment the 
handsome face of their boy above an oaken pulpit, with 
thousands feeding on his words, the public honors, 
and all that faded away into tears and misty nothing- 
ness. But parenthood is doomed to disappointment 
it does not endure long enough to see the end. Youth 
is so headstrong and wilful: it will not learn from the 
experience of others. 

And all these years of preparation and expense! Better 

125 



JOHN MILTON 



had he died and been laid to rest with the three now in 
the churchyard. 

Before Milton had served his seven years* apprentice- 
ship at Cambridge, his parents moved to the village 
of Horton twenty miles out of London, Windsor way. 
<I The village of Horton has not changed much with the 
years, and a tramp across the fields from Eton by way 
of Burnham Beeches and Stoke Pogis, where Gray 
wrote " The Elegy," is quite worth while. It is a land 
of lazy woods, and winding streams and hedgerows 
melodious with birds. One treads on storied ground, 
and if you wish you can recline beneath gnarled old 
oaks where Milton mused and scribbled, and wrote the 
first draft of " L' Allegro " and " II Penseroso." 
Milton loitered here at Horton for six years, and in 
that time produced just six poems. 
He was thirty-two years of age, and had never earned 
a sixpence. But what booted it! His father and mother's 
home was his: they gladly supplied his every want; 
and his mother, especially, was ever his kindly critic 
and most intimate friend. His days were spent in study, 
dreams, lonely walks across green fields, and home- 
comings when, with his mother's hand in his, he 
would talk or recite to her in order to clarify the 
thought that pressed upon him. Very calm, very peace- 
ful and very beautiful were those days. " The pensive 
attitude of mind brings the best result not the active/' 
he used to say. It was then he wrote to his old friend, 
126 



JOHN MILTON 



Diodati: *' You asked what I am about what I am 
thinking of? Why, with God's help, I am thinking of 
immortality. Forgive the word, it is for your ear alone 
I am pluming my wings for flight/* 
The good mother had misty, prophetic visions of what 
this flight might be, and had ceased to counsel her son 
against the sin of idleness. But she did not live to see 
her prophecies confirmed, for in this time of peace and 
love, when the vibrant air was filled with hope, she 
passed Beyond. 

Long years after, John Milton exclaimed, " Oh! Why 
could she not have lived to know! " And the poignant 
grief of this son, then a man in years (with his thirtieth 
birthday well behind), turned on the thought that he 
had disappointed Her the mother who had loved him 
into being. 



127 



JOHN MILTON 




ILTON'S woes began with his marriage they 
have given rise to nearly as much discussion 
as his poetry. In his " Defensio Secunda," he 
tells, with a touch of pride, of the absolute 
innocency that continued until his thirty-fifth year. 
When we consider how his combined innocence and 
ignorance plunged him into a sudden marriage with a 
bit of pink-and-white protoplasm, aged seventeen, we 
can not but regret that he had not devoted a little of 
his valuable time to a study of femininity. And in 
some way we think of Thackeray, when he was being 
shown the marvelous works of a certain amateur 
artist. " Look at that! look at that! " cried the zealous 
guide, " and he never had a lesson in art in his life! " S& 
Thackeray adjusted his glasses, looked at the picture 
carefully, sighed and said, "What a pity he did n't have 
just a little good instruction! " 

Milton the student, versed in abstractions and full of 
learned lore, went up the Thames seeking a little 
needed rest. Five miles from Oxford lived an ebb-tide 
aristocratic family by the name of Powell. Milton had 
long known this family, and, it seems, decided to tarry 
with them a day or so. Just why he sought their com- 
pany no one ever knew, and Milton was too proud to 
tell. The brown thrush, rival of the lark and mocking- 
bird, seldom seeks the society of the blue jay. But it 
did this time. The Powells were a roaring, riotous, 
roystering, fox-hunting, genteel, but reduced family, 
128 



JOHN MILTON 



on the eve of bankruptcy, with marriageable daughters. 
CfThe executive functions of love-making are best 
carried on by shallow people; so mediocre women 
often show rare skill in courtship, and sometimes suc- 
ceed in bagging big game. But surely Mary Powell 
had no conception of the greatness of Milton's intellect 
she only knew that he was handsome, and her parents 
said he was rich, 

There was feasting and mirth when Milton arrived 
back in town accompanied by his bride and various of 
her kinsmen. In all marriage festivals there is some- 
thing pathetically absurd, and I never see a sidewalk 
awning spread without thinking of the one erected for 
John Milton and Mary Powell, who were led through 
it by an Erebus that was not only blind, but stone-deaf. 
<I John Milton was an ascetic, and lived in a realm of 
reverie and dreams; his wife had a strong bias toward 
the voluptuous, reveling in a world of sense, and 
demanding attention as her right. Milton began diving 
into his theories and books, and forgot the poor child 
who had no abstract world into which to withdraw. 
Suddenly bereft of the gay companionship that her 
father's house supplied, she felt herself aggrieved, 
alone; and tears of vexation and homesickness began 
to stream down her pretty cheeks. 
When summoned into her husband's presence she had 
nothing to say, and Milton, the theorist, discovered 
that what he had mistaken for the natural reticence 

129 



JOHN MILTON 



and bashfulness of maidenhood was mere inanity and 
lack of ideas. But the loneliness of the poor country 
girl, shut up in a student's den, is a deal more touching 
than the scholar's wail about " the silent and insensate " 
wife. The girl was being deprived of the rollicking 
freedom to which she had been used, but the great 
man was waking the echoes with his wail for a com- 
panionship he had never known. 

Yet the girl was shrewd. All women are shrewd, I am 
told, and some are wise and some are not; and many 
women there be who consider finesse an improvement 
on frankness. At the end of a month, Milton's wife 
contrived to have her parents send for her to return 
home on a visit that was to last only until come 
Michaelmas. But Michaelmas arrived and the young 
bride refused to return, sending back saucy answers 
to the great author of " II Penseroso." 
In the meantime Milton wrote pamphlets urging that 
divorce should be granted on the grounds of incom- 
patibility, and pronouncing as inhuman the laws that 
gave freedom from marital woes on no less ignoble 
grounds than that a man should violate his honor 35 
There is pretty good evidence that a part of Milton's 
argument on the subject of divorce was written out 
while his wife was under his roof. This reveals a slight 
lack of delicacy as well as the author's habit to make 
copy out of his private griefs; but it must be granted 
that Milton goes to the very bottom of the subject, 
130 



JOHN MILTON 



even to stating the fact that those happily married 
have neither pity nor patience with those mismatecL 
" If you want sympathy," he says, " you must go to 
those who are regarded as not respectable." Any man 
who writes on philosophy can find his every cue in 
Plato, and he who discusses divorce from a radical 
standpoint can find himself anticipated by Milton in 
the Seventeenth Century. Every view is taken, even 
down to the suggestion of a probationary marriage, 
which Milton thought might come about when civi- 
lization had ceased to crawl and begun to walk* 
One seeks in vain to learn if the unhappy wife of 
Milton ever read her husband's bitter tracts. It is 
probable she never did, and would not have compre- 
hended their import if she had ; and it is still more likely 
that she never came to realize that she was wedded 
to the greatest man of the age. A truce was patched 
up, on the bankruptcy of her father, and she came back 
penitent, and was taken into favor. Not only did she 
come back, but she brought her family; and the raven- 
ous Royalists consumed the substance of the spiritual 
and ascetic Puritan. 

Had Milton then died, it is probable that the gladsome 
widow would have been consoled and married again 
very shortly, just as did the widows of Van Dyck and 
Rubens not knowing that to have been the wife of a 
king was honor enough for one woman. 
But after fifteen years of domestic ** neglect/* during 

131 



JOHN MILTON 



which she doubtless benefited her husband by stirring 
in him a noble discontent, she passed from earth; and 
it was left for John Milton to repeat twice more his 
marital venture, with a similar result. And in this, Fate 
sends back a fact that leers like Mephistopheles, by 
way of answer to Milton's pamphlets on divorce: Why 
should the State grant a divorce, when great men refuse 
to learn by experience, and given the opportunity, 
only repeat the blunders they have already made? S& 



m 



JOHN MILTON 




"jOD in His goodness has in certain instances 
sent great men angels of light for assistants 
mates who could comprehend and sympathize 
with their ideals. But it is expecting too much 
to suppose that Nature can look out for such a trifle as 
that the right man should marry the right woman. 
Nature possibly never considered a time-contract, and 
she is a careless jade, anyway. She moves blindly along 
with never a thought for the individual. 
Audubon the naturalist records that one-third of all 
birds hatched tumble out of the nest before they can 
fly, and once on the ground the parent birds are unable 
either to warm, feed or protect them. 
Read the lives of the Great Men who have lived during 
the past three thousand years, and listen closely, and 
you will hear the wild wail of neglected and unappre- 
ciated wives. A woman can forgive a beating, but to be 
forgotten never. She hates, by instinct, an austere and 
self-contained character. Dignity and pride repel her; 
preoccupation keeps her aloof; concentration on an idea 
is unforgivable. 

The wife of Tolstoy seeking to have her husband 
adjudged insane is not a rare instance in the lives of 
thinkers. To think thoughts that are different from the 
thoughts one's neighbors think is surely good reason 
why the man should be looked after. Recently we 
have had evidence that the wife of Victor Hugo regarded 
the author of " Les Miserables " with suspicion, and at 

133 



JOHN MILTON 

one time actually made preparations to let him enjoy 
his exile alone she would go back to Paris and enjoy life 
as every one should. At Guernsey there was no society! 
<I When Isaac Newton called upon his ladylove and in 
a fit of abstraction, looking about for a utensil to push 
the tobacco down in his pipe, chanced upon the lady's 
little finger, the law of gravitation was abrogated at 
once, and Newton and his pipe were sent, like nebulae 
whirling into space. 

When the Great Inventor, absorbed in a problem as to 
Electricity (that thing which to us is only a name and 
of which we know nothing), forgets home, wife, child, 
supper; and midnight finds him in his laboratory, 
where he has been since sunrise just imagine, if you 
please, the shrill greeting that is in cold storage for 
him when he stumbles home, haggard and worn, at 
dawn. How can he explain why he did this thing and 
answer the questions as to who was there, and what 
good it all did anyway! 

Thought is a torture, and requires such a concentra- 
tion of energy that there is nothing left for the soft 
courtesies of marriage. The day is fleeting, and the 
night cometh when no man can work. The hot impulse 
to grasp and materialize the dream ere it fades, is 
strong upon the man. 

Of course he is selfish he sacrifices everything, as 
Palissy did when fuel was short and the clay just at 
the turning-point. Yes, the artist is selfish: he sacrifices 
134 



JOHN MILTON 



his wife and society, and himself, too, to get the work 
done. Four-o'clocks, mealtime, bedtime, and all the 
household system as to pink teas, calls and etiquette, 
stand for naught. And down the corridors of Time comes 
to us the shrill wail of neglected wives, and the crash of 
broken hearts echoes like the sound of a painter falling 
through a skylight. All this is the price of achievement. 



135 




JOHN "MILTON 

AKING a little look backward into Milton's 
life, we find that until his thirty-third year 
he had not tasted of practical life at all. About 
that time his father, in a sort of desperation, 
packed him off to the Continent, in charge of a trusty 
.attendant, who acted in the dual capacity of servant 
r and friend. The letters he carried to influential men in 
Paris, Florence, Venice and Rome secured him the 
Speaker's eye, and his beauty and learning did the rest. 
His march was that of a conquering hero. In Paris he 
surprised the savants by addressing them in their own 
tongue, and reciting from their chief writers. This was 
repeated in Italy; and at Florence, as a sort of half- 
challenge for permission to occupy the highest seat, 
he was invited to read from his own compositions, 
which he did with such grace and power that thereafter 
all doors flew open at his touch. 

Returning to England after an absence of fifteen 
months, he found his father's household broken up, 
and through bad investments, the family fortune sadly 
depleted. But travel had added cubits to his stature: 
the mixture with men had put him into possession of 
his own, and he now felt well able to cope with the 
world. He secured modest lodgings in Saint Bride's 
Churchyard, and set to work to make a living and a 
name by authorship. His head teemed with subjects 
for poems, but cash advances were not forthcoming 
from publishers, and, to bridge over, he tried tutoring* 
136 



JOHN MILTON 



<I It was at this time that " Paradise Lost/* the one 
matchless epic of English literature, was conceived. 
Rough jottings were made as to divisions and heads, 
and a few stanzas were written of the immortal poem 
that was not to be completed for a score of years. 
The first volume of Milton's poems was issued in Six- 
teen Hundred Forty-five, when he was thirty-seven 
years of age. But before this he was known as the 
author of some pamphlets which had made political 
London reel. The writer was at once seen to be a man of 
remarkable learning and marvelous intellect, and the 
work secured Milton a few friends and divers enemies 3$ 
From a man of leisure Milton had suddenly become a 
worker, whose every daylight hour was crammed with 
duties. His skill as a teacher brought him all the pupils 
he cared for, and he moved into better quarters in 
Aldersgate. He was immersed in his work, was making 
valuable acquaintances among literary people, was 
revered by his pupils, and the happiness was his of 
knowing that he was influential and independent. A 
fine intoxication comes to every brain-worker when 
the world acknowledges with tangible remittances 
that the product of his mind has a value on the Rialto. 
Such was Milton's joy in Sixteen Hundred Forty-three. 
q The " Comus," " II Penseroso," " L* Allegro " and 
" Lycidas " had established his place as a poet; and 
the power of his pen had been proven in sundry religious 
and political controversies. 

137 



JOHN MILTON 



In his household were two sons of his sister and several 
other pupils who had sought his tutorship. He was 
contented in his work, pleased and happy with the 
young friends who sat at his board, and in an hour or 
two snatched each day from toil, for music and reverie. 



138 



JOHN MILTON 




EIZE upon the moments as they fly, John 
Milton, and hug them to your heart! Those 
were days of gold when your mother was your 
patient listener and friend. Her love envel- 
oped you as an aura; and her voice, soft and low, 
upheld you when courage faltered. But these, too, are 
glorious days days full of work, and health, and hope, 
and high endeavor. But these days of peace and freedom 
are the last you shall ever know. Even now they flee as 
a shadow and fade into mist! Gross stupidity, silent 
and insensate, sits waiting for you at the door; calumny 
is near; taunting hate comes riding feist! 
The sympathy for which you yearn shall be yours 
only in dreams, and you shall be cheated of all the 
tenderness for which your heart prays. The love and 
gentleness which you associate with your mother, you 
ascribe in innocence and ignorance to all women; but 
Fate shall undeceive you, O John Milton, and make 
mock of all your high ideals. You dote on liberty, but 
liberty is not for you. You shall see the funeral of the 
Republic; the defamation of your honor; the proscrip- 
tion of all the sacred things you prize. Your compan- 
ions shall not be of your own choosing, but shall be 
those who neither know nor value the sweet, subtle 
mintage of the mind. Around you mad riot shall surge, 
a hatred for liberty shall prevail an enthusiasm for 
slavery. The glorious leaders of your Puritan faith 
shall be condemned and executed, hanged, cut down 

139 



JOHN MILTON 

from the gallows alive, and quartered amid the hoarse 
insults of the people they sought to serve; and you 
yourself shall be hunted like a wild beast. You shall 
see the prisons filled to overflowing with men and 
women whose only crime was their love for truth. And 
a libertine shall sit on the throne of the England that 
you love. These things you shall see with those mild, 
dark eyes, and then night, eternal night, shall settle 
down upon you; and for those idle orbs no day shall 
dawn nor starry night appear, nor face of man nor 
child shall be reflected there. Your sightlessness shall 
give those who owe you gratitude and love, opportunity 
to filch your gold; and, lastly, fire shall rob you of your 
books, and well-nigh all your treasures. 
Like another Lear, your daughters shall neither esteem 
nor respect you, and the lines you dictate shall be to 
them but the idle vaporings of a mind diseased. Your 
acute ears shall hear these daughters express the 
wish that you were dead; and then in your blindness 
you will give yourself into the keeping of a woman as 
dull, inane and unfeeling as the foolish child you 
first chose as wife. But with it all your obstinacy 
shall constitute your power; and that beauty which 
was yours in youth shall be with you to the last. You 
shall feel all the torments of the damned and become 
inured to the scorching flames of hell! But, as recom- 
pense, the splendors of the Celestial Kingdom shall 
open upon your inward vision, and your soul shall 
140 



JOHN MILTON 



behold that which the eyes of earth have lost. Some- 
thing great and proud shall go out from your presence 
to all the discerning ones who shall approach you; and 
your end shall be like the setting of the sun, bright, 
calm, poised and resplendent. 



141 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




SAMUEL JOHNSON 



LETTER TO CHESTERFIELD 

$ # * Seven years, my Lord, have now passed since I 
waited in your outward rooms and was repulsed from 
your door; during which time I have been pushing on 
my work through difficulties of which it is useless to 
complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of 
publication without one act of assistance, one word of 
encouragement, or one smile of favor. Such treatment 
I did not expect, for I never had a patron before. 
The shepherd in Vergil grew at last acquainted with 
Love, and found him a native of the rocks. 
Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern 
on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he 
has reached the ground encumbers him with help? The 
notice which you have been pleased to take of my 
labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been 
delayed till I am indifferent, and can not enjoy it; till I 
am a solitary, and can not impart it; till I am known, 
and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity 
not to confess obligations where no benefit has been 
received, or to be unwilling that the public should 
consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence 
has enabled me to do for myself* 

Having carried on my work thus far with so little obli- 
gation to any favorer of learning, I shall not be disap- 
pointed though I should conclude it, should less be 
possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from 
that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with 
so much exultation, my Lord. 

Your Lordship's most humble, most obedient servant, 

Sam Johnson 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




HE critics, I believe, have made a 
distinction between large men and 
great men. 

Samuel Johnson was both. 
He was massive in intellect, colossal 
in culture, prodigious in memory, 
weighed nigh three hundred pounds, 
and had prejudices to match. He 
was possessed of a giant's strength, and occasionally 
used it like a giant for instance, when he felled an 
offending bookseller with a folio. 

Johnson was most unfortunate in his biographer. In 
picturing the great writer, Boswell writes more enter- 
tainingly than Johnson ever did, and thereby overtops 
his subject* And when in reply to the intimation tfeat 
Boswell was going to write his life, Johnson answered, 
" If I really thought he was, I would take his," he spoke 
a jest in earnest. 

Walking along Market Street in the city of Saint Louis, 
with a friend, not long ago, my comrade suddenly 
stopped and excitedly pointed out a man across the way 
" Look quick there he goes! " exclaimed my friend, 
" that man with the derby and duster see? That *s the 
husband of Mrs. Lease of Kansas! " And all I could say 
was, ** God help him! " 



Not but that Mrs* Lease is a most 



excellent and 
145 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



amiable lady; but the idea of a man, made in the image 
of his Maker, being reduced to the social state of a 
drone-bee is most depressing. 

Among that worthy class of people referred to some- 
what ironically as " the reading public/' Boswell is 
read, but Johnson never. And so sternly true is the 
fact that many critics, set on a hair-trigger, aver that 
were it not for Boswell no one would now know that 
a writer by the name of Johnson ever lived. Yet the 
fact is, Boswell ruined the literary reputation of John- 
son by intimating that Johnson wrote Johnsonese; but 
that is a mistake, 

Johnson never wrote Johnsonese. The piling up of 
reasons, the cumulation of argument setting off epi- 
gram against epigram that mark Johnson's literary 
style are its distinguishing features. He is profound, 
but always lucid. And lucidity is just what modern 
Johnsonese lacks. The word was coined by a man who 
had neither the patience to read Johnson nor the ability 
to comprehend him. Only sophomores, and private 
secretaries who write speeches for able Congressmen, 
write Johnsonese. 

Quibblers possibly may arise and present Johnson's 
definition of network " anything reticulated or decus- 
sated at equal distances with interstices between the 
intersections ** but with the quibbler we have no 
time to dally. Some people insist on having their 
literature illustrated, just as others refuse to attend 
146 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



lectures that are not reinforced by a stereopticon. 
<I Johnson had a style that is stately, dignified, splendid. 
It moves from point to point with absolute precision, 
and in it there is seldom anything ambiguous, muddy, 
confused or uncertain* Get down a volume of " Lives 
of the Poets," and prove my point for yourself, by 
opening at any page. It was Boswell who set his own 
light, chatty and amusing gossip over against the wise, 
stately diction of Johnson, and allowed Goldsmith to 
say, " Dear Doctor, if you were to write a story about 
little fishes, you would make them talk like whales," 
and the mud ball has stuck. The average man is much 
more willing to take the wily BoswelTs word for it 
than to read Johnson for himself. 

The balanced power of Johnson's English can not fail 
to delight the student of letters who cares to interest 
himself in the matter of sentence-building. Johnson 
handles a thought with such ease! He makes you think 
of the circus " strong man " who tosses the cannon- 
ball marked " weight 250 Ibs/' What if the balk are 
sometimes only wood painted black! Have we not 
been entertained? Read this specimen paragraph: 
" Criticism is a study by which men grow important 
and formidable at very small expense. The power of 
invention has been conferred by Nature upon few, and 
die labor of learning those sciences which may by con- 
tinuotis effort be obtained is too great to be willingly 
endured; but every maa can exert such judgment as he 

147 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



has upon the works of others; and he whom Nature 
has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet 
support his vanity by the name of ' critic/ M 
But the greatest literary light of his day has been 
thrown into the shadow by a man whom no one sus- 
pected of being able to write entertainingly. In the 
world of letters the great Cham exists only as a lesser 
luminary; just as the once-noted novelist, George Henry 
Lewes, is now known only as the husband of George 
Eliot & & 

And yet no one is so rash as to say that the name of 
Boswell would now be known were it not for Johnson. 
And conversely (or otherwise), if it were the proper 
place, I could show that were it not for George Henry 
Lewes we should never have had " Adam Bede " or 
" The Mill on the Floss." 

Boswell wrote the best " Life " ever written. Nothing 
like it was ever written before; nothing to equal it has 
been written since. It has had hundreds of imitators, 
but no competitors. Matthew Arnold said that no man 
ever had so good a subject, but Arnold for the moment 
seemed to forget that Hawkins, a professional literary 
man, published his " Life of Johnson " long before 
Boswell's was sent to the printer and who reads 
Hawkins? 33 53 

Surely Boswell had a great subject, and he rises to the 
level of his theme and makes the most of it. At times 
I have wondered if Boswell were not really a genius 
148 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



so great and profound that he was willing to play the 
fool, as Edgar in " Lear " plays the maniac, and allow 
himself to be snubbed (in print) in order to make his 
telling point! Millionaires can well afford to wear 
ragged coats. Second-rate man Boswell may have been, 
as he himself so oft admits, yet as a biographer he stands 
first in the front rank. But suppose his extreme igno- 
rance was only the domino disguising a cleverness so 
subtle that it was not discovered until after his death! 
And what if he smiles now, as from out of Elysium he 
looks and beholds how, as a writer, he has eclipsed old 
Ursa Major, and thus clipped the claws that were ready 
for any chance Scot who might pass that way! 
John Hay has suggested that possibly the insight, 
piquancy and calm wisdom of Omar Khayyam are 
two-thirds essence of FitzGerald. If so, the joke is on 
Omar, not on FitzGerald. 

A dozen of Johnson's contemporaries wrote about him, 
and all make him out a profound scholar, a deep phi- 
losopher, a facile writer. Boswell by his innocent quoting 
and recounting makes his conversation outstrip all of his 
other accomplishments. He reveals the man by the most 
skilful indirection, and by leaving his guard down, often 
allows the reader to score a point. And of all devices of 
writing folk, none is finer than to please the reader by 
allowing him to pat himself on the back. 
If a writer is too clever he repels. Shakespeare avoids 
the difficulty, and proves himself the master by keeping 

149 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



out of sight; Renan wins by a great show of modesty 
and deferential fairness; Boswell assumes an artlessness 
and ignorance that were really not parts of his nature. 
Every man who reads Boswell considers himself the 
superior of Boswell, and therefore is perfectly at home. 
It is not pleasant to be in the society of those who are 
much your superiors. Any man who sits in the company 
of Samuel Pepys for a half-hour feels a sort of half- 
patronizing pity for him, and therefore is happy, for 
to patronize is bliss. 

If Boswell has reinforced fact with fiction, and given 
us art for truth, then his character of Samuel Johnson 
is the most vividly conceived and deeply etched in all 
the realm of books. But if he gives merely the simple 
facts, then Boswell is no less a genius, for he has omitted 
the irrelevant and inconsequential, and by playing off 
the excellent against the absurd, he has placed his 
subject among the few great wits who have ever lived 
a man who wrote remarkably well, but talked infinitely 
better & 53 



150 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




pNTAIGNE advises young men that if they 
will fall in love, why, to fall in love with 
women older than themselves. His argument 
is that a young and pretty woman makes 
such a demand on a man's time and attention that she is 
sure, eventually, to wear love to the warp. So the wise old 
Gascon suggests that it is the part of wisdom to give your 
affection to one who is both plain and elderly one who 
is not suffering from a surfeit of love, and one whose 
head has not been turned by flattery. " Young women/* 
says the philosopher, " demand attention as their right 
and often flout the giver; whereas old women are very 
grateful/' 53 33 

Whether Samuel Johnson, of Lichfield, ever read 
Montaigne or not is a question; but this we know, 
that when he was twenty-six he married the Widow 
Porter, aged forty-nine. 

Assuming that Johnson had read Montaigne and was 
mindful of his advice, there were other excellent reasons 
why he did not link his fortunes with those of a young 
and pretty woman. 

Johnson in his youth, as well as throughout life, was 
a Grind of the pure type. The Grind is a fixture, a few 
being found at every University, even unto this day. 
The present writer, once in a book of fiction, founded 
on fact, took opcasion to refer to the genus Grind, 
with Samuel Johnson in mind, as follows: He is poor 
in purse, but great in frontal development* 

151 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



He goes to school because he wishes to (no one ever 
" sent " a Grind to college). He has a sallow skin, a 
watery eye, a shambling gait, but he has the facts. 
His clothes are outgrown, his coat shiny, his linen a 
dull ecru, his hands clammy. He reads a book as he 
walks, and when he bumps into you, he always excul- 
pates himself in Attic Greek. 

This absent-mindedness and habit of reading on the 
street affords the Sport (another college type) great 
opportunity for the playing of pranks. It is very funny 
to walk along in front of a Grind who is reading as he 
walks, and then suddenly stop and stoop, and let the 
Grind fall over you; for the innocent Grind, thinking 
he has been at fault, is ever profuse in apologies. 
Many years ago there was a Grind. A party of Sports 
saw him approaching, deeply immersed in his book. 
" Look you," quoth the chief of the Sports " look 
you and observe him fall over me/ 5 
And they looked. 
Onward blindly trudged the Grind, reading as he came. 

The Sport stepped ahead of him, stooped, and 

one big foot of the Grind shot out and kicked him into 
the gutter. Then the Grind continued his walk and his 
reading without saying a word. 

This incident is here recorded for the betterment of 
the Young, to show them that things are not always 
what they seem, 

Samuel Johnson, I have said, was a Grind of the pure 
152 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



type. He was so nearsighted that he fell over chairs in 
drawing-rooms, and so awkward that his long arms 
occasionally brushed the bric-a-brac from mantels. No 
lady's train was safe if he was in the room. At gather- 
ings of young people, if Johnson appeared, his presence 
was at once the signal for mirth, of which he was, of 
course, the unconscious object. 

Johnson's face was scarred by the King's Evil, which 
even the touch of Queen Anne had failed to cure. While 
a youth he talked aloud to himself a privilege that 
should be granted only to those advanced in years. He 
would grunt out prayers and expletives at uncertain 
times, keep up a clucking sound with his tongue, sway 
his big body from side to side, and drum a tattoo upon 
his knee. Now and again would come a suppressed 
whistle, and then a low humming sound, backed up by 
a vacant non-compos-mentis smile. 
Another odd whim of Johnson's was, that he would 
never pass a lamp-post without touching it, and would 
go back miles upon his way to repair an omission. 
Surely great wit to madness is near allied. 
This most strange young man was a boarder in the 
home of Mrs. Porter, when her husband was alive, 
and the husband and boarder had been fast friends 
drawn together by a bookish bias. 

Very naturally, when the husband passed away, the 
boarder sought to console the bereaved landlady, and 
the result was as usual. And when, long years sifter, 

153 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



Johnson would solemnly explain that it was a pure 
love-match on both sides, the statement never failed 
to excite much needless and ill-suppressed merriment 
on the part of the listeners. In mimicking the endear- 
ments of Johnson and his ** pretty creature " so the 
admiring husband called her Garrick many years 
later added to his artistic reputation* 
Unlike most literary men, Johnson was domestic, and 
his marriage was one of the most happy events of his 
career. But to show that the philosophy of Montaigne 
is not infallible, and that all signs fail in dry weather, 
it may be stated that the bride proved by her conduct 
on her wedding-day that she had some relish of the 
saltness of time in her cosmos, despite her fifty sum- 
mers and as many hard winters. 

Said Johnson to Boswell, referring to the horseback-ride 
home after the wedding-ceremony: " Sir, she had read 
the old romances, and had got into her head the fantas- 
tical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover 
like a dog. So, sir, at first she told me that I rode too f cist, 
and she could not keep up with me; and when I rode a 
little slower, she passed me, and complained that I lagged 
behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I 
resolved to begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed 
on briskly, till I was fairly out of sight. The road lay 
between two hedges, so I was sure she could not miss it; 
and I contrived that she should soon come up with me. 
When she did I observed her to be in tears." 
154 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




HORTLY after his marriage, Johnson opened 
a private school for boys. To operate a private 
school successfully implies a certain amount 
of skill in the management of parents; but 
Johnson's uncouth manners and needlessly blunt speech 
were appalling to those who had children who might 
possibly be given to imitation. 

Only three pupils were secured, and but one of these 
received any benefit from the tutor; and this benefit 
came, according to the scholar, from the master's sup- 
plying an excellent object for ridicule. 
This pupil's name was David Garrick. 
The meeting with David Garrick was a pivotal point 
in the life of Johnson. Johnson's mental and spiritual 
existence flowed on, separate and apart from that of 
his wife. There was no meeting of the waters. His affec- 
tion for her was most tender and constant, but in 
quality it seemed to differ but slightly from the senti- 
ment he entertained toward " Hodge/' his cat. 
Hodge was fed on oysters that his owner could ill 
afford; and after Johnson had spent the little fortune 
that belonged to his wife, the lady was regaled on the 
best and choicest that his income, or credit, could 
secure. But if one of those lightning-flashes of wit 
ever escaped him in her direction, we do not know it. 
Garrick evidently was the first flint that tried his steeL 
The distinctions of teacher and scholar were soon lost 
between these two, and the lessons took the turn of a 

155 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



fusillade of wit. They made comments on the authors 
they read, and comments on the people they met, and 
criticized each other with encaustic remarks that tested 
friendship to its extremest limit. And this continual 
skirmish that would have made sworn foes of common 
men in a day revealed to each that the other had the 
element of unexpectedness in his nature and was worth 
loving 53 53 

Humor and melancholy go hand in hand; both are born 
of an extreme sensitiveness, and the man who smiles 
at the trivial misfits of life realizes also that all men 
who tread the earth are living under a sentence of 
death, and that Fate has merely allowed them an 
indefinite, but limited, reprieve. 

At the outset of Johnson's career, one can not but see 
that the companionship and nimble wit of Garrick 
saved his ponderous and melancholy mind from going 
into bankruptcy. 

And now we find them: one twenty-eight, big, near- 
sighted, theoretical, blundering; and the other twenty- 
one, slight, active, graceful, practical. They were alike 
in this: they both loved books and were possessed of 
the eager, earnest, receptive mind. To possess the 
hospitable mind! For what greater blessing can one 
pray? 53 53 

And then they were alike in other respects they were 
desperately poor; neither had an income; neither had 
a profession; both were ambitious. Johnson had written 
156 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



a tragedy " Irene " and he had read it to Garrick 
several times, and Garrick said it was good and should 
make a hit. But Garrick did n't know much about 
tragedies law was his bent he had read law for two 
years, off and on. They would go to London and seize 
fortune by the scalp-lock. In London good lawyers were 
needed, and London was the only place for a playwright, 
*I They scraped together their pennies, borrowed a few 
more, got a single letter of introduction between them 
to some person of unknown influence, and started away, 
with the lacrimose blessings of the elderly bride, and 
of Davy's mother. 

They must have been a queer sight when the stage let 
them down at the Strand dusty, dirty, tired and 
scared by the babel of sounds and sights! And no doubt 
Johnson's enormous size saved them from sundry insults 
and divers taunts that otherwise might have come their 
way 33 33 

Those first few weeks in London were given to staring 
into shop-windows and wandering, open-mouthed, up 
and down. No one wanted the tragedy the managers 
all sniffed at it. Little then did Davy dream, as they 
made their way from the office of one theater-manager 
to that of another, that he himself would some day 
own a theater and give the discarded play its first set- 
ting. And little did he think that he would yet be the 
foremost actor of his time, and his awkward mate the 
literary dictator of London. Oh! this game of life is a 

157 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



great play! The blissful uncertainty of it all! The ambi- 
tions, plans, strivings, heartaches, mad desires and vain 
reaching out of empty arms! The tears, the bitter 
disappointments, the sleepless nights, the echoes of 
prayers unheard, and the hollow hopelessness of love 
turned to hate! 

And then mayhap we do as Emerson did go out into 
the woods, and all the trees say, " Why so hot, my 
little man? *' 

Garrick, disappointed and undone at the thought of 
defeat in his chosen profession, turned to commercial 
life and then to the theater. At his first stage appear- 
ance he trembled with diffidence and all but fled in 
fright. He persevered, for he could do nothing else. 
He arose step by step, and honors, wealth and fame 
were his. Love came to him: he wedded the woman of 
his choice. And after his death she survived for forty- 
three years. She lived one hundred years, lacking two. 
Garrick was born in Seventeen Hundred Sixteen; and 
his wife died in Eighteen Hundred Twenty-two, which 
seems to bring the times of Johnson pretty close home 
to us. Throughout her long life, she lived in the memory 
of the love that had been hers ; cherishing and protecting, 
idolizing, as did Mary Shelley, the one name and that 
alone 53 53 

Johnson and Garrick thoroughly respected and admired 
each other, yet they often quarreled they quarreled 
to the last. But when Davy had lain him down in his 
158 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



last sleep, aged sixty-three, it was Johnson, aged 
seventy, who wrote his epitaph, introducing into it the 
deathless sentence * * * " by that stroke of death 
which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impov- 
erished the public stock of harmless pleasure/' 



159 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




HREE months in London and Johnson suc- 
ceeded in getting a place on the editorial staff 
of ** The Gentleman's Magazine. " Prosperity 
smiled, not exactly a broad grin; but the 
expression was something better than a stony, forbid- 
ding stare. 

He made haste to go back to Lichfield after his ** Letty," 
which name, by the way, is an improvement on Betty, 
Betsy or Tetsy being baby-talk for Elizabeth. 
They took modest lodgings in a third floor back, off 
Fleet Street, and Johnson began that life of struggle 
against debt, ridicule and unkind condition that was to 
continue for forty-seven years; never out of debt, never 
free from attacks of enemies; a life of wordy warfare 
and inky broadsides against cant, affectation and 
untruth with the weapons of his dialectics always 
kept well burnished by constant use; hated and loved; 
jeered and praised; feared and idolized. 
Coming out of his burrow one dark night, he encoun- 
tered an old beggar-woman who importuned him for 
alms. He was brushing past her, when one of her 
exclamations caught his ear. 

"Sir," said the woman, " I am an old struggler!" $& 
" Madam," replied Johnson, "so am I!" And he gave 
her his last sixpence. 

But life in London was cheap in those days it is now 
if you know how to do it, or else have to. Johnson 
used to maintain that for thirty pounds a year one could 
160 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



live like a gentleman, and as proof would quote an 
imaginary acquaintance who argued that ten pounds a 
year for clothes would keep a man in good appearance; 
a garret could be hired for eighteen pence a week, and 
if any one asked your address you could reply, " I am 
to be found in such a place." Threepence laid out at a 
coffeehouse would enable one to pass some hours a 
day in good company; dinner might be had for six- 
pence, and supper you could do without. On clean-shirt 
day you could go abroad and call on your lady friends. 
Among Johnson's first literary tasks in London was 
the work of reporting the debates in Parliament. In 
order that the best possible results might be obtained, 
he resorted to the rather unique, but not entirely orig- 
inal, method of not attending Parliament at alL Two or 
three young men would be sent to listen to the debates; 
they would make notes giving the general drift of the 
argument, and Johnson would write out the speech. 
His style was exactly suited to this kind of work, being 
eminently rhetorical. And as at the time no public 
record of proceedings was kept and Parliament did not 
allow the press the liberty it now possesses all being 
as it were clouded in mysterious awe these reports 
of debates were eagerly sought after. To evade the 
law, a fictitious name was given the speaker, or his 
initials used in such a way that the individual could be 
easily recognized by the reading public* 
Some of Johnson's best work was done at this time* 

161 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



and in several instances the speaker, not slow to 
appreciate a good thing, allowed the matter to be reis- 
sued as his own* Long years after, a certain man was 
once praising the speeches of Lord Chesterfield and was 
led on to make explanations. He did so, naming two 
speeches, one of which he zealously declared had the 
style of Cicero; the other that of Demosthenes. John- 
son becalmed the speaker by agreeing with him as Jo 
the excellence of the speeches, and then adding, " I 
Wrote them both/' 

The gruffness of Ursa Major should never be likened 
to that of the Sage of Chelsea. Carlyle vented his 
spleen on the nearest object, as irate gentlemen some- 
times kick at the cat; but Johnson merely sparred for 
paints. When Miss Monckton undertook to refute his 
statements as to the shallowness of Sterne by declar- 
ing that " Tristram Shandy " affected her to tears, 
Johnson rolled himself into contortions, made an 
exasperating grimace* and replied, ** Why, dearest, that 
is because you are a dunce!" Afterward, when re- 
proached for the remark, he replied, " Madam, if I had 
thought so, I surely would not have said it/' 
Once, at the house of Garrick, to the terror of every 
one, Burke contradicted Johnson flatly, but Johnson's 
good sense revealed itself by his making no show of 
resentment. Burke's experience was, it must be said, 
exceptional. An equally exciting, but harmless occasion, 
was the only time that the author of " Rasselas " 
162 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



met the man who wrote the " Wealth of Nations.** 
Johnson called Adam Smith a liar, and Smith promptly 
handed back an epithet not in the Dictionary. Never- 
theless, old Ursa spoke in an affectionate praise of 
" Adam/* as he called him thereafter, thus recognizing 
the right of the other man to be frank if he cared to 
be. Johnson wanted no privilege that he was not will- 
ing to grant to others except perhaps that of dictator 
of opinions. 

When Blair asked Johnson if he thought any modern 
man could have written 4 * Ossian/' Johnson replied, 
" Yes, sir many men, many |romen, and many chil- 
dren/* And if Blair took umbrage at the remark, so 
much the worse for Blair. 

We have recently heard of the Boston lady who died 
and went to Heaven, and on being questioned by an 
archangel as to how she liked it, replied languid!y f 
" Very, very beautiful it all is!*' And then sighed and 
kdded, ** But it is not Boston!" This story seems to 
illustrate that all tales have their prototype, for Bos** 
well tells of taking Doctor Johnson out to Greenwich 
Park, and saying, "Now, now, isn't this fine!" But 
Johnson would not enthuse; he only grunted, "All 
very fine but it *s not Fleet Street/* 
On another occasion when a Scotchman was dilating 
on the noble prospects to be enjoyed among the hills 
of Scotland, Johnson called a halt by saying, " Sir, let 
me tell you that tibe noblest prospect a Scotchman ever 

163 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



sees is the highroad that leads him to England/* 53 
This seems to evince a strong prejudice toward Scot- 
land, and several Scots, with their usual plentiful lack 
of wit, have so solemnly written it down. But the 
more sensible way is to conclude that the situation 
simply afforded opportunity for a little harmless banter. 
<I Another equally indisputable proof of prejudice is 
shown when Boswell tells Johnson of the wonderful 
preaching of a Quaker woman. Johnson listened in 
grim, cold silence and then exclaimed: " Sir, a woman's 
preaching is like a dog's walking on its hind legs. It is 
not done well; but you are surprised to find it done 
at all/' 53 53 

One of the leading encyclopedias, I see, says, " Doctor 
Johnson was one of the greatest conversationalists of 
afl time/' The writer evidently does not distinguish 
between talk, conversation and harangue. Johnson 
could talk and he often harangued; but he was not a 
conversationalist. Neither could he address a public 
assembly, and I do not find that he ever attempted it. 
Good talkers are seldom orators. One reads with 
amusement tinged with pity, of Carlyle's sleepless 
nights and cold, terror-fraught anticipations of his 
Lord Rector's speech. In deliberative gatherings a 
Very small man could apply the snuffers to the great 
Dictator of Letters. 

" Sir/' said Doctor Johnson to a talkative politician, at 
a dinner-party, " I perceive you are a vile Whig/' and 
164 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



then lie proceeded to demolish him. Yet Johnson him- 
self was a Whig, although he never knew it; just as he 
was a liberal in religion, and yet was boastful of being 
a stanch Churchman. 

Johnson's irritability never vented itself against the 
helpless. His charity knew no limit not even the bot- 
tom of his purse. When he had no money to give, he 
borrowed it. And when his pension was three hundred 
pounds a year, the Thrales could not figure out that he 
spent more than seventy or eighty on himself. The 
rest went to his dependents. In his latter days his 
home was a regular museum of waifs and strays. 
There was Miss Williams, the ancient aristocratic 
spinster who came to London to have an operation 
performed on one of her eyes. She came to Johnson's 
home and remained ten years, because she had been a 
friend of his wife. This claim was enough, and she slid 
into the head place in Johnson's household. Her pee- 
vishness used to drive the old man, at times, into the 
street; but that tongue of his, with its crushing retorts, 
'was ever silent and tender towards her. The poor 
creature became blind, and used to shock the finicky 
Boswell by testing the fulness of the teacups with 
her finger* 

Then there was a Mrs. Desmoulins and her daughter, 
who drifted down from Lichfield and came to Johnson, 
because forty years before, he, too, had lived in Lich- 
fiekL He gave them house-room, treated them as guests, 

165 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



and each week left a half -guinea on the mantel of their 
room 33 55 

Then there was the broken-down Levett, and Francis 
Barber, who, coming as a servant, remained as one of 
the family, because he was too old to work. A Miss 
Carmichael, in green spectacles and bombazine, carry- 
ing a cane, completed what the Doctor called his 
" seraglio/' Writing to Mrs. Thrale in playful mood, 
telling of his household troubles, he says, " Williams 
hates everybody; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does 
not love Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll 
loves none of them/* And he, the great, gruff and mighty 
Ursa Major, listened to all their woes, caring for them 
in sickness, wiping the death-dew from their foreheads, 
wearing crape upon his sleeve for them when dead 5S 



166 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 




HIS man tasted all the fame that is one man's 
due; he had all the money he needed, or knew 
how to use; the coveted LL. D. came from his 
Alma Mater; and the patronage from. Lord 
Chesterfield, for which he craved, only that he might 
fling it back. He was the friend and confidant of the 
great and proud, deferred to by the King and sought 
out by those who prized the far-reaching mind and 
subtle imagination the things that link us with the 
Infinite. The fear of hell and dread of death that haunted 
him in youth and middle age, finally gave way to faith 
and trust. When partial paralysis came to him at mid- 
night, his sanity did not fail him, and knowing the worst* 
he yet hesitated to disturb the other members of the 
household, but went to sleep, philosophizing on tie 
phenomena of the case alert for more knowledge, as 
was his wont. Morning came and being speechless, he 
wrote on his ever-ready pad of paper and handing 
the sheet to his servant, watched with amused glances 
the perplexity and terror of the man. He next wrote to 
his friend, Mrs. Thrale, that letter, a classic of wit and 
resignation, wherein he explains his condition and 
excuses himself for not calling upon her and explaining 
the matter by word of mouth. 

Such willingness to accept the inevitable is curative. 
He grew better and recovered his speech. But old age 
is a disease that hats no cure save death. Johnson 
accepted the issue as a fea^eman shouM thankful for 

167 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



the gift of conscious life that had been his. When the 
last hour was nigh he sent loving messages to his nearest 
friends, repeating their names over one by one. His 
last recorded words were directed to a young woman 
who called upon him, " God bless you, my dear." 
And so he passed painlessly and quietly into the sleep 
that knows no waking; pleased at last to know that 
his dust would rest in Westminster Abbey. 
Thus ended, as the day dies out of the, western sky, 
this life, seemingly so full of tempest and contradic- 
tion. The autumn of his life was full of enjoyment, and 
no day passed but that some one, weak, weary and 
worn, arose and called him blessed. Most of his wild 
imprecations and blustering contradictionswere reserved 
for those who fattened on such things, and who came to 
be tossed and gored. In his spirit Socrates and Falstaff 
joined hands. In his life there was a deal of gladness 
far, far more than of misery and unrest; which fact I 
believe is true of every life. 
The Universe seems planned for good. 
A world made up of such men as Samuel Johnson 
would be a wild chaos of tasks undone. But since 
Nature has never sent but one such man, and more than 
a century has passed since his death and we know not 
yet with whom to compare him, we need have no fears. 
The world is held in place through the opposition of 
forces: and the body of every healthy man is the 
battle-ground of animal organisms that match strength 
168 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



against strength. So, too, a healthy society always has 
these active and sturdy organisms, which set in play 
other forces that hold in check their seeming excess. 
That the Divine Energy should incarnate itself and find 
expression in the form of a man, and that this man 
should inspire others to think and write, to do and dare, 
is a subject the contemplation of which should make 
us stand uncovered. The companionship of Johnson 
inspired Reynolds to better painting, Garrick to stronger 
acting, Burke to more profound thinking and hundreds 
of others, too, quenched their thirst at the rock which 
he smote whenever he discoursed or wrote. 
Sympathy is the first essential to insight. So with syn> 
pathy, I pray, behold this blundering giant, and you 
will see that the basis of his character was a great 
Sincerity. He was honest doggedly honest and saw 
with flashing vision the thing that was; and thither he 
followed, crowding, pushing, knocking down whatso- 
ever opinion or prejudice was in the way. And so he 
ever struggled forward. But hate him not, for he is thy 
brother yea! he is brother to all who strive and reach 
forward toward the IdeaL Shining through dust and 
disorder, now victorious, now eclipsed in deepest 
gloom, in him is the light of genius; and this is never 
base, but at the worst is admirable, lovable with pity* 
There was pride in his heart, but no vanity; and he 
should be loved for this if for no other reason; he had 
the courage to make an enemy. In his great heart were 

169 



SAMUEL JOHNSON 



wild burstings of affection, and a Lunger for love that 
only the grave requited. There, too, were fierce flashes 
of wrath, smothered in an hour by the soft dew of pity. 
His faults and follies were manifold, as he often 
lamented with tears; but the soul of the man was sub- 
lime in its qualities worldwide in its influence. 



170 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



The perfect historian is he in whose work the character 
and spirit of the age is exhibited in miniature. He relates 
no fact, he attributes no expression to his characters, 
which is not authenticated by sufficient testimony. But 
by judicious selection, rejection and arrangement, he 
gives to truth those attractions which have been 
usurped by fiction. In his narrative a due subordination 
is observed: some transactions are prominent; others 
retire. But the scale on which he represents them is 
increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of 
the persons concerned in them, but according to the 
degree in which they elucidate the condition of society 
and the nature of man. 

Essay on 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




UCCESS is in the blood, q There 
are men whom Fate can never 
keep down they march jauntily 
forward, and take by divine right 
the best of everything that earth 
affords. But their success is not 
attained by the Doctor Samuel 
Smiles Connecticut policy. They do 
not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt 
their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they 
are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their 
way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and 
tarrying not, move steadily forward. 
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw 
the chin in, carry the crown of your head high, and fill 
the lungs to the utmost; drink in sunshine; greet your 
friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp. 
Do not fear being misunderstood and never waste a 
minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly 
in your mind what you would like to do, and thfcn 
without violence of direction you will move straight 
to die goal. 

Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate is the 
shoal cm which many a bark is stranded. When we 
are fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the com- 
pass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we 

173 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if we stop 
to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed 
a hawser to befoul the screw. 

Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you 
would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, 
you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the 
opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of 
your desire, just as the coral-insect takes from the 
running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your 
mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, 
and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you 
into that particular individual. Thought is supreme, 
and to think is often better than to do. 
Preserve a right mental attitude the attitude of cour- 
age, frankness and good-cheer. 
To think rightly is to create. 

Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method 
of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it 
needed and desired. The horse is fleet because it wishes 
to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck 
has a web-foot because it wants to swim. All things 
come through desire, and every sincere prayer is 
answered. Many people know this, but they do not 
believe it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their 
lives $$ & 

We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots 
after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks or 
alleged good folks hoping to attach ourselves to 
174 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



them. The only way to secure friends is to be one. 
<I And before you are fit for friendship you must be able 
to do without it. That is to say, you must have suffi- 
cient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out 
of the surplus of your energy you can do for others. 
The man who craves friendship, and yet desires a self- 
centered spirit more, will never lack for friends. 
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead 
of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; 
and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to your- 
self again and yet again, " I am a part of all my eyes 
behold! " And the feeling will surely come to you that 
you are no mere interloper between earth and skyj 
but that you are a necessary particle of the Whole. No 
harm can come to you that does not come to all, anc| 
if you shall go down, it can only be amid a wreck of 
worlds 53 33 

Thus by laying hold on the forces of the Universe, you 
are strong with them. And when you realize this, all 
else is easy, for in your arteries course red corpuscles, 
and in your heart there is the will to do and be. Carry 
your chin in, and the crown of your head high. We are 
gods in the chrysalis. 



175 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




HOMAS B. MACAULAY was small in stat- 
ure; but he always carried ids chin well in 
and the crown of his head high. 
It was said of Rubens that throughout his 



lifetime he kept success tied to the leg of his easel with 
a blue ribbon. If ever a writing man had success tied 
to the leg of his easy chair, that man was Macaulay 33 
In the characters and careers of Rubens and Macaulay 
there is a marked resemblance. 

When Macaulay was twenty-two he was at Cambridge, 
and the tidings arrived that a dire financial storm had 
wrecked the family fortune. The young man had ever 
been led to suppose that his father was rich rich 
beyond all danger from loss and that he himself would 
never have a concern beyond amusing himself, and the 
cultivation of his intellect. And so in practical affairs 
his education had been sadly neglected. But when the 
news of calamity came, instead of being depressed, he 
was elated to think that now he could make himself 
positively useful. 

Responsibility gravitates to the man who can shoulder 
it. Strong men who can wisely direct the efforts of 
others are always needed they were needed in Eight- 
een Hundred Twenty-two, when Tom Macaulay 
received word of his father's trouble they are needed 
today more than then men who meet calamity with a 
smile and are pleased at sight of obstacles, knowing they 

can overcome them. Augustine Birrell has written, 
176 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



** Macaulay always went his sublime way rejoicing like 
a strong man to run a race, knowing full well that he 
could give anybody five yards in fifty and win easily." 
f Macaulay took up the burden that his father was not 
able to bear, mastered every detail of the business, 
studied out the weak points, and then explained to the 
creditors just what they had better do. 
And they did it. 

We always trust the man who has courage plus, 
enthusiasm to spare, and who shows by his manner that 
he is master of the situation. 

In a few years Macaulay saved from the wreck enough 
to secure his father, mother and sisters against want 
for the rest of their days, and eventually he paid every 
creditor in full with interest. Had he run away from 
the difficulty, as his father was on the point of doing, 
the family would have been turned homeless into the 
streets 53 53 

Moral Things are never so bad as they seem; and all 
difficulties sneak away when you look them squarely 
in the eye. 

At this time the family, consisting of the father, mother, 
three sisters and a brother, lived at Fifty Great Ormond 
Street, not far from the British Museum. The house 
is still standing, but I recently discovered that the 
occupants know nothing, and care less, about Thomas 
Macaulay 53 53 

Toina was the child of his mother, In temperament, 

177 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



disposition and physique he was as much unlike his 
father as two men can well be. Old Zachary Macau! ay 
was a strong, earnest man who took himself seriously* 
In latter years he grew morose, puritanic and was full 
of dread of the Unseen. He preached long sermons to 
his family, cautioned them against frivolity, forbade 
music, tabued games, and constantly spoke of the 
tongue as '* the unruly member." 

He, of course, was not aware of it, but he was teaching 
his children by antithesis. 

" When I meet Macaulay I always imagine I am in 
Holland/* once said Sydney Smith. 
" Why so! " asked a friend. 

" Because he is such a windmill/' was the reply, 
But then we must remember that Sydney Smith never 
much liked Macaulay they were too near alike. When- 
ever they met there was usually a wordy duel. " He 
is so overflowing with learning that it runs over and 
he stands in the slop/* said Smith. 

Tom talked a great deal, he was fond of music and 
games, and was never so pleased as when engaging in 
some wild frolic with his sisters and any chance young- 
ster that happened to stray in. His sister, Lady Tre- 
velyan, has recorded that during those days of gloom 
which followed her father's failure, matters were made 
worse by the stricken man moping at home and tight- 
ening the domestic discipline. 

Tom never resented this, but on the instant the father 
178 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



would leave the house, it was the signal of a wild pan- 
demonium of disorder. Tom would play he was a tiger, 
and crawling under the sofa would emit fearful growls 
that would cause the children to scream with pre- 
tended fright. Next they would play fire, and pile all the 
furniture in the center of the room, heaping books, 
clothing, rugs on top. Then Tom would " rescue " his 
mother if she appeared on the scene, and seizing her 
in his arms carry her to a place of safety, and then 
engage in a pillow-fight if she came back. 
This wild frolic was always a delight to the children, 
and Tom's homecoming was ever watched with eager 
anticipation. His visits shot the gloom through with 
sunshine, and when he went away even the neighbors* 
children were in tears. His health and enthusiasm 
infected everybody he met. 

In the course of looking after his father's business 
Macaulay unlearned most of the previous lessons of 
his life, and taught himself that to do for others and 
sink self was the manly method. But so lightly did he 
bear the burden that it is doubtful if he ever considered 
he was making any sacrifice. 

When his father died, Macaulay put entirely out of his 
mind the question of a household separate and apart 
from that of his mother and sisters. He devoted him- 
self entirely to them; he wanted no other love than 
theirs 35 33 

Unlike so many men of decided talent, the best and 

179 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



most loving side of Macaulay's nature was made 
manifest at home. His bubbling wit, brilliant conver- 
sation, and good-cheer were for his own fireside, first; 
and all that cutting, critical, scathing flood of invec- 
tive was for the public that wore a rhinoceros-hide. 



180 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




]ACAULAY'S article on Milton, published 
during his twenty-fifth year, in the " Edin- 
burgh Review," is generally regarded as a 
most wonderful achievement " Just think! " 
the critics cry " the first article printed to be of a 
quality that electrified the world! " But we must 
remember that this youth had been getting ready to 
write that article for ten years. 

At college Macaulay shirked mathematics and philos- 
ophy, spending his time and attention on things he 
liked better. The only study in which he excelled was 
composition. Even, in babyhood his command of lan- 
guage had been a wonder to the neighborhood in which 
he lived. Hannah More had for a time taken him under 
her immediate charge and prophesied great things of 
his literary faculty; and his mother was not slow in 
seconding the opinion. 

At Cambridge he already had more than a local repu- 
tation as a writer, and it was this reputation that 
secured him the commission to write for the " Review.'* 
The terrible Jeffrey was getting old and his regular 
staff had pretty nearly worked out their vein. Jeffrey 
wrote up to London (being south) to a friend telling 
him that the " Review " must have new blood, and 
imploring him to be on the lookout for some young 
man who had ideas in his ink-bottle. 
This friend knew the vigor and incisiveness of Macau- 
lay's style, and as he read the fetter from Jeffrey he 

181 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



exclaimed, " Macaulay! " f It was a great compliment 
to a mere youth to be asked to contribute to the 
" Edinburgh Review/' Edinburgh was a literary center, 
and you could not throw a stone in Princess Street, any 
more than you can in Tremont Street, Boston, without 
hitting a poet and caroming on two novel-writers and 
an essayist. 

Thomas Carlyle, five years older than Macaulay, and 
Who was to live and write for twenty-five years after 
Macaulay's passing, had not yet struck twelve* Lon- 
don, too, like Edinburgh, was full of writing men, 
standing in the market-places of Grub Street with no 
man to hire. 

And yet Fate sought out Tom Macaulay, five feet four, 
who had plenty of other work on hand; and through 
that single " Essay on Milton " he sprang at once 
into the front rank of British writers and at the same 
time there was thrust into his hands a bonus of fifty 
pounds for the work. 

As a study of a thing that made the reputation of a 
writer, the ** Milton " is worth a careful reading. It is 
very sure that in America today there are a hundred 
men who could write just as good an article, but 
whether these men are Macaulays or not is quite 
another question. But it is not at all probable that e 
writer will ever again leap into place and power on so 
small a feat. 

Yet the article surely shows all the dash and vigor 
182 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



that mark Macaulay's literary style. There Is person- 
ality in it; it reveals the red corpuscle; and tells without 
question that there is a man behind the guns, It was 
opportune; for literature at that particular time had 
reached a point where the sciolist was in full possession, 
and the dead husks of learning were being palmed off 
for the living thoughts of living men. 
Periodicity reveals itself in all Nature, and even in the 
world of thought there are years of famine and years 
of plenty. Dry rot gets into letters; things are ripe for 
a revolution; the tinder is dry, and along comes some 
Martin Luther and applies the torch. 
Macaulay simply expressed himself boldly, frankly, 
and without thought of favor writing as he felt. 
The article made a great stir the first edition of the 
magazine was quickly exhausted, and Macaulay awoke 
one morning, like Byron, and found himself famous. 
All there was about it, the " Milton " revealed a man, 
a strong, vivid-thinking, vigorous man, who, seeing 
things clearly, wrote from his heart. Art is born of 
feeling: it is heart, not head, that carries conviction 
home; but if you have both, as Macaulay had, it is BO 
special disadvantage. 

From the publication of Macaulay's first article the 
" Review " took on a new lease of life. Prosperity 
came that way and for the rest of his life the ** Review " 
was not long without contributions from his pen; and 
the numbers that contained his articles were always in 

183 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



great demand. Writers who possess a piercing insight 
into the heart of things, and who have the courage to 
express themselves, regardless of the views of others, 
are well feared by men in power. 

The man who knows, who can think, and who can 
write, holds a sword of Damocles over every politician. 
<I Governments are honeycombed with vulnerable 
spots; and to secure the ready writer on your side is the 
part of wisdom* 

Macaulay's article on Milton proved that there was a 
thinker loose, and that on occasion he could strike. 
The politicians began to court him, and we find him 
writing articles of a very Junius-like quality on con- 
temporary issues. 

When he was twenty-six years old we are told he 
was " called to the Bar,** which means that he was 
given permission to practise law the expression, 
" called," being a mild form of fiction that still obtains 
in England in legal matters, while in America the 
word applies only in theology. 

The practise of law, however, was not at all to the 
taste of Macaulay, and after a few short terms on the 
circuit he relinquished it entirely. 

In the meantime we find he read continually. Indeed, 
about the only bad habit this man had was reading. 
He read to excess he read everything and read all the 
time. He read novels, history, poetry, and dived deeply 
into the dead languages, reading Plutarch's Lives 
184 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



twice in a year, and Euripides, Thucydides, Homer, 
Cicero, Caesar all without special aim or end. Such 
a restless appetite for reading is apt to produce mental 
dyspepsia, and is not at all to be advised for average 
people; and the probabilities are that even in Macau- 
lay's case his time might often have been better spent 
in meditation* 

In Eighteen Hundred Twenty-seven appeared in the 
" Review " the " Essay on Mill.'* Like all of Macaulay's 
articles it reveals a wealth of learning and bristles with 
information on many themes. It often seems as if 
Macaulay took a subject simply to execute a learned 
war-dance around it. The article on Mill is a good 
example of merely touching the central theme and then 
going off into by-lanes of economics, history and civil 
government, with endless allusions to literature, poetry* 
art and philosophy. It is all intensely interesting, closely 
woven, often gorgeous in its coloring; and " style " nms 
like a thread of gold through it all. 
Shortly after this article appeared, Lord Lansdowne 
intimated to the young writer that he would like the 
honor of introducing him into public life, and if agree- 
able he could arrange for him to stand for Parliament 
in the vacant seat of Calne. 

Calne was one of those vest-pocket boroughs, owned 
by a single man, of which England has so many. The 
people think they choose their represetative, but 
they do not, any more than we do in America. The 

185 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



government by the Boss and for the Boss is no new 
institution. Macaulay presented himself and was elected 
without opposition. And so before his thirtieth year he 
found himself on the flood-tide of national politics 33 
Fifteen years before, if any one had expressed himself 
as plainly as Macaulay did on entering Parliament, 
he would have had a taste of jail, the hulks, or the 
pillory. So alert had the Government agents been for 
sedition that to stick one's tongue in his cheek at a 
member of the Cabinet was considered fully as bad as 
poaching, both being heinous oflfenses before God and 
man. Persecution was in the air and tyranny stalked 
abroad 53 33 

But tyranny is self -limiting. If laws are too severe, 
there will surely come a time when they will not be 
observed, and history shows that the men who have 
introduced the guillotine ended their careers in its 
embrace 33 33 

A change had come in England. The Tories were being 
jostled from their seats, and the Whigs were just com- 
ing into power. Liberalism was abroad in the land, and 
surely the time had come when a strong man might 
speak his mind. 

Macaulay was by nature a protester; he was *' agin 
*em"; and when he chose a subject for his maiden 
speech he was not only sincere, but exceeding politic. 
He guessed the lay of the land, and knew the direction 
of the wind. Heresy was popular* 
186 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



His address was in favor of an act removing the legal 
disabilities of Jews. It was a plea for liberty, and such 
was the vigor, power and vivid personality he threw 
into the address that he astonished the House and 
brought in the loungers from the cloakrooms. 
It was his only speech during the session. Efforts 
were made to get him on his feet again, but he was 
too wise to lend the battery of his mind to any com- 
monplace theme. Only a subject such as might stir 
men's souls could tempt him. 
Wise Thomas Macaulay! 

He had made a reputation as a writer by his first arti- 
cle, and after his maiden speech all London chanted his 
praises as an orator. He practised self-restraint and 
knew better than to dilute his fame by holding argu- 
ment with small men on little topics. 
His first speech at the next session of Parliament only 
served to fix his place as an orator more firmly. The 
immediate excuse was the "Reform Bill**; but the 
subject was liberty, and literature and history ware 
called upon to furnish fire and supply the fuel for 
pyrotechnics. After its delivery the Speaker sent for 
Macaulay and personally congratulated him on making 
the most effective address to which he had listened 
for twenty-five years. The House of Commons, ever 
willing and anxious to appropriate a genius, being 
glutted by the dull and commonplace, sought in many 
ways from this time forward to do honor to Macaulay* 

187 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



The elder members grew reminiscent and said the 
good old times were coming back, and talked of Burke, 
Fox, Canning and Lord Plunket. 

Jeffrey, feeling a sense of guardianship over Macaulay, 
having launched him, as he rightfully claimed, was 
on hand to hear the speech, and made haste to embrace 
his ward, kissing him on both cheeks. 
Judging from this distance, there was nothing espe- 
cially peculiar or distinctive about Macaulay's oratory, 
save his intense personality and vivid earnestness. 
An educated man, thoroughly alive on any one theme, 
is always interesting. And it was Macaulay's policy 
never to speak in public on a theme that did not bring 
out his entire armament, and yet with it all he was 
wise enough to cultivate a feeling of restraint and 
leave the impression that he had much more in reserve. 
So it was in his literary work: he never wrote when 
tired, nor attempted to express when he was not 
thoroughly alive to the subject in hand. He watched 
his mood. And thus in all Macaulay's " Essays " we 
feel the systole and diastole, and the hot, strong, 
impatient movement of ruddy life. There is " go " in 
every sentence. This is what constitutes his marvelous 
style life, life, life! 

To very few men, indeed, is it given to be at once a 
brilliant talker, a strong writer and an effective orator. 
Clever talkers are seldom orators, and the great writers 
usually ebulliate only in the silence of their studies* 
188 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



The fame of Macaulay went abroad, and he l>ecame 
the social lion of London he was courted, feted, 
petted and in drawing-rooms when he attended, 
people stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of him, and 
remained breathless that they might hear him speak. 
No doubt the fact that he was a bachelor helped fan 
the social flame. His sister has recorded that every 
morning cards and letters of invitation were piled high 
on his breakfast-table. 

With it all, though, the handsome little man preserved 
his poise, and his modesty and becoming dignity in 
public never failed him. 

Such was Macaulay 's popularity that, after having 
served two terms for the borough of Calne, the way 
was opened for him to stand for Leeds. Indeed, it is 
probable that a dozen districts would have been glad 
to elect him as their representative. 
After the passing of the " Reform Bill," to which his 
efforts had been so valuable, he was appointed one of 
the Commissioners of the Board of Control. This 
Board represented the King in the Government's rela- 
tions with the East India Company. Macaulay, being 
the strongest man on the Board, was naturally chosen 
its secretary, just as the best man in a jury is chosen 
foreman. Here was a man who was not content to be 
a mere figurehead in office, trusting to paid clerks and 
underlings to secure him information and do the work 
not he. Macattlay set himself the task of thoroughly 

189 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



acquainting himself with Indian affairs. He read every 
book of importance bearing on the subject; and studied 
the record and history of every man of consequence 
who was or had been connected with India. His intensely 
practical, businesslike mind sifted every detail, intui- 
tively separating the relevant from the inconsequential, 
so that within a few months older heads were going to 
him for information, just as in a store or shop there is 
always one man who knows where things are, and in 
times of doubt he is the man who is sought out. To the 
many it is so much easier to ask some one else than to 
find out for themselves; and it also shifts the responsi- 
bility, and gives one a chance, if necessary, to prove a 
halibi goodness gracious! 

One feature of the Reform Bill provided that one of 
the members of the Supreme Council of India should 
be chosen from among persons not connected in any 
way with the East India Company. 
This membership of the Supreme Council was a most 
important office, and carried with it the modest salary 
of ten thousand pounds a year fifty thousand dollars 
double what the President of the United States then 
received 33 33 

Macaulay had had no hand in creating this office, and 
indeed, at the time the Reform Bill was being gotten 
into shape, his interest in Indian affairs had only been 
easual. But now he was recognized as the one man for 
the new office, and the office sought the man. 
190 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



Comparatively, Macaulay was a poor man, and the 
acceptance of the office for the term of six years would 
place him for the rest of his life beyond the reach of 
want. He could live royally and retire at forty years of 
age, with at least thirty thousand pounds to his credit* 
And yet he hesitated about accepting the office. His 
far-reaching eye told him that an exile for six years 
from England would place him out of touch with things 
at home, and that the greater office to which he aspired 
would be beyond his grasp. Besides that, the fact would 
always be brought up that his reward for well-doing had 
been enough, just as we have an unwritten law in 
America that there shall be no " third term/* 
Macaulay saw all this and hesitated. 
He advised with Lord Lansdowne, and with his sister 
Hannah, his nearest and best friend; and if it had been 
possible his mother would have been given the casting 
vote; but two years before, she had passed out, yet not 
until she realized that her son was one of the foremost 
men in England. Hannah Macaulay (named in honor 
of Hannah More) advised the acceptance of the office, 
and upon his earnest request agreed to share hex 
brother's exile. 



191 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




ANNAH MACAULAY, gracious in every 
way, was the sister of her brother. Her mind 
was fit companion for his, and whenever he 

had a difficult problem on hand he would 

clarify it by explaining it to her; and be it known, you 
can never talk well to a dullard. 

And so Hannah the loyal resigned her position as gov- 
erness, and brother and sister packed up and sailed 
away in the good ship "Asia " for India. Among their 
belongings was a modest library of three thousand 
volumes, all of which, a wit ha3 said, were read twice 
through by Macaulay on the outward voyage. India was 
safely reached, and Macaulay set himself with his 
accustomed vigor to learning the language and inform- 
ing himself as to the actual status of things, in order 
that he might provide for their betterment. On account 
of his grasp on legal matters he was elected Legal 
Adviser of the Supreme Council. 

Everything went well for a year, and then a terrible 
calamity overtook Macaulay. 
His sister was in love. 

This seems a good place to explain that Thomas Bab- 
ington Macaulay himself was never in love. He had no 
time for that his days were too full of books and 
practical business to ever waste any time on soft 
sentiment 33 33 

But now he was confronted by a condition, not a theory: 
Lord Trevelyan was in love with his sister, and his 
192 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



sister was In love with Lord Trevelyan. Macaulay 
might have discovered the fact for himself and saved 
the lovers the embarrassment of making a confession, 
had he not been so terribly busy with his books, but 
Macaulay, like love, was blind to some things. 
He heard the confession, and wept. 
Then he gave the pair his blessing there was nothing 
else to do. 

It was not long after the wedding that he discovered 
he had found a brother instead of having lost a sister; 
and the sister being very happy, Macaulay was happy, 
too. He insisted that they move their effects into his 
house, and they did so, all living as one happy family. 
So the years passed; and when children came Macau- 
lay's joy was complete. His heart went out to his sister's 
children as though they were his own. Occasionally 
the good mother complained that the Legal Adviser 
of the Supreme Council undid her discipline by indulg- 
ing the youngsters in things that she had forbidden. 
To all of which the Legal Adviser would only laugh, 
and crawling under the settle would emit many tiger- 
ish growls, and the children would scream with terror 
and delight, and other children, brown-legged, wear- 
ing no clothes to speak of, would come trooping in, 
and together they would manage, after an awful strug- 
gle, to capture the tiger, and with some in front and 
others behind and two or three on his back, would 
carry him away captive. 

193 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



One of these children, grown to manhood, Sir George 
Trevelyan, was destined to write, with the help of his 
mother, the best life of Macaulay that has ever been 
written S& S& 

The exile did not prove quite so severe as was antici- 
pated; but when in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-eight it 
was necessary for Lord Trevelyan to return to England, 
Macaulay, sick at the thought of being left behind, 
resigned his office and sailed back with the family S& 
We are told that officeholders seldom die and never 
resign. This may be true in the main; but surely there 
can not be found another instance in history of a man. 
throwing up an office with a fifty-thousand-dollar salary 
attachment, simply because he could not bear the 
thought of being separated from his sister's children 3& 



194 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 




OON after his return to England Macaulay 
was elected to a seat in Parliament from 
Edinburgh, a city that he had scarcely so 
much as visited, but to whose interest he had 
been loyal in that, up to this time, nine-tenths of all he 
had written had been printed there. 
To represent Edinburgh in the House of Commons was 
no small matter, and we know that Macaulay was not 
unmindful of the honor. 

His next preferment was his appointment as Secretary 
of War, and a seat in the Cabinet. 
During all these busy years he ever had on hand some 
piece of literary work. In fact, all of the " Essays " on 
which his literary fame so largely rests, were composed 
on *' stolen time " in the lull seized from the official and 
social whirl in which he lived. 

If you want a piece of work well and thoroughly done, 
pick a busy man. The main of leisure postpones and pro- 
crastinates, and is ever making preparations and 
" getting things in shape "; but the ability to focus on 
a thing and do it is the talent of the man seemingly 
overwhelmed with work. Women in point lace and 
diamonds, club habitues and " remittance men " 
those with aU the time there is can never be entrusted 
to carry the message to Gomez. 
Pin your faith to the busy person* 
Macaulay *s first and only political rebuff came with 
his defeat the second time he stood for election in 

195 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



Edinburgh. His conscientious opposition to a measure 
in which the Scottish people were especially interested 
caused the tide to turn against him. 
No doubt, though, the failure of re-election was a good 
thing for Macaulay and for the world. He at once 
began serious work on his " History of England " 
that project which had been in his head and heart for a 
score of years. All of his literary labors so far had been 
merely ephemeral at least he so regarded them. The 
Essays he regarded only as so many newspaper articles, 
not worth the collecting. It was America that first 
guessed their true value as literature, and it was not 
until the American editions were pouring into England 
that Macaulay allowed his scattered work to be col- 
lected, corrected and put into authorized book form 33 
This history was to be the thesis that would admit his 
name to the Roster of Fame. But, alas, the history 
was destined to be only a fragment. It covers scarce 
fifteen years, and is like that other splendid fragment, 
the work of Henry Thomas Buckle, a preface; Buckle's 
preface is the greatest ever penned, with its author 
dead at forty. The projected work of both of these men 
was too great for any one man to accomplish in a single 
lifetime. A hundred years of unremitting toil could 
not have completed Macaulay's task. 
In Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine he was elected Lord 
Rector of the University of Glasgow; and at his speech 
of installation he took occasion to take formal leave of 
196 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



political life. He would devote the remainder of his days 
to literature and abstract thought. 
Men are continually " retiring " from business and 
active life, all unaware of the grim humor of the pro- 
ceedings. It was not so very long before Edinburgh, 
in an endeavor to undo the slight she had put upon 
Macaulay, again elected him to Parliament, without 
his being near, or raising his hand either for or against 
the measure. 

And again his voice wets heard in the House of Commons. 
<f Macaulay was a modest man, and yet he knew his 
power 33 3S 

The Premiership dangled just beyond his reach. Many 
claim that if he had not gone to India he would have 
moved by strong, steady strides straight to the highest 
office that England could bestow. And others aver that 
when he was created a Peer in Eighteen Hundred 
Fifty-seven it was a move toward the Premiership, and 
that if his health had not failed he would surely have 
won the goal. But how futile it is to speculate on what 
might have happened had not this or the other occurred! 
<f Yet certainly the daring caution of Macaulay's mind, 
his dignity and luring presence, his patience, self- 
command, good temper, and all those manifold graces 
of his heart, would have made him an almost ideal 
Premier, one who might rank with Palmerston, Fed, 
Disraeli or Gladstone. 
But the highest office was not for him* 

197 



THOMAS B. MACAULAY 



We die by heart-beats; and Macaulay at fifty-nine had 
lived as much as most strong men do if they exist a 
hundred years. 

It is easy to show where Lord Macaulay could have 
been greater. His life lies open to us as the ether. We 
complain because he did not read less and meditate 
more; we sigh at his lack of religion and mention the 
fact that he never loved a woman, seemingly waiving 
tautology and the fact that men who do not love are 
never religious. 

We forget that it takes a good many men to make the 
Ideal Man. 

If Macaulay had been different he would have been 
some one else. He was a brave, tender-hearted man 
who lived one day at a time, packing the moments 
with good-cheer, good work and an earnest wish to do 
better tomorrow than he had done today. That Nature 
occasionally produces such a man should be a cause for 
gratitude in the hearts of all the rest of us little folk 
who jig, mince, mouth, amble, run, peek about and 
criticize our betters* 



198 



LORD BYRON 




LORD BYRON 



I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; 

A palace and a prison on each hand: 
I saw from out the wave her structures rise 

As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand: 
A thousand years, their cloudy wings expand 

Around me, and a dying Glory smiles 
O'er the far times, when many a subject land 

Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles, 

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her 

hundred isles 1 

-CfoWef/oroM 



LORD BYRON 




AN! I wonder what a man really is! 
Starting from a single cell, this 
seized upon by another, and out of 
the Eternal comes a particle of the 
Divine Energy that makes these 
cells its home. Growth follows, cell 
is added to cell, and there develops 
a man a man whose body, two- 
thirds water, can be emptied by a single dagger-thrust 
and the spirit given back to its Maker. 
This being, which we call man, does not last long. 
Fifty-seven generations have come and gone since 
Caesar trod the Roman Forum. The pillars against 
which he often leaned still stand, the thresholds over 
which he passed are there, the pavements ring beneath 
your tread as they once rang beneath his, Three gener- 
ations and more have come and gone since Napoleon 
trod the streets of Toulon contemplating suicide. 
Babes in arms were carried by fond mothers to see 
Lincoln, the candidate for President. These babes have 
grown into men, are grandfathers possibly, with 
whitened hair, furrowed faces, looking calmly forward 
to the end, having tasted all that life holds in store for 
them 53 53 

And yet Lincoln lived but yesterday! You can reach 
back into the past and grasp his hand, and look into 

201 



LORD BYRON 



his sad and weary eyes, f A man! weighted with the 
sins of his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, 
who fade off into dim spectral shapes in the dark and 
dreamlike past; no word of choice has he in the selection 
of his father and mother, no voice in the choosing 
of environment brought into life without his consent 
and thrust out of it against his will battling, striving, 
hoping, cursing, waiting, loving, praying; burned by 
fever, torn by passion, checked by fear, reaching for 
friendship, longing for sympathy, clutching nothing. 



202 



LORD BYRON 




]OCTORS and priests attend us at both ends 
of the route. We can not^be born, neither can 
we die, without consulting the tax-collector, 
and interviewing those who look after us for a 
consideration 33 33 

The doctor who sought to assist George Gordon Byron 
into the world dislocated the bones of his left foot in the 
operation. Forsooth, this baby would not be born as 
others he selected a way of his own and paid the 
penalty. " It is a malformation take these powders 
I '11 be back tomorrow/* quoth the busy doctor* 
The autopsy proved it was not a malformation, but a 
displacement. 

" Doctor, now please tell me just what is the matter 
with me/* once asked an anxious patient. 
"Tut, tut!" replied the absent-minded physician; 
" can't you wait? The post-mortem will reveal all that/* 
The critics did not wait for Byron's death it was vivi- 
section. And after his death the dissection was zealously 
continued. Byron's life lies open to us in many books. 
Scarcely a month in the entire life of the man is unao 
counted for, and if a hiatus of a few weeks is found, 
the men of imagination fill in and make him a pirate 
on the Mediterranean coast, or give him a seraglio in 
some gloomy old Moorish palace in Venice* 
In his lifetime Byron was overpraised and overcensuredL 
and since his death the dust has been allowed to gather 
over his matchless books. Between the two extremes 

203 



BYRON 



lies the truth; and the true Byron is just now being 
discovered. Byron in literature will not die. He is the 
brightest comet that has darted into our ken since 
Shakespeare's time; and as comets have no orbit, but 
are vagrants of the heavens, so was he. Tragedy was in 
his train, and his destiny was disgrace and death. 
And yet as we review the life of this man, " the lame 
brat '* of his mother, as this mother called him, and 
behold the whirlwind of passion that swept him on, 
the fulsome praise, the shrill outcry of hypocritical 
prudes and pedants, the torrent of abuse, and the piling 
up of sins that he never committed (and God knows he 
committed enough!); and yet behold his craving for 
tenderness, the reaching out for truth, and hear his 
earnest and unquenchable prayer to be understood and 
loved, we blot out the record of his sins with our tears. 
To know the life of Byron and not be moved to pro- 
foundest pity marks one as alien to his kind. 
" God is on the side of the most sensitive/' said Thoreau. 
And did there ever tread the earth a man more sensitive 
than Byron? such capacity for suffering, such exalta- 
tion, such heights, such depths! Music made him 
tremble and weep, and in the presence of kindness he 
was powerless. He lived life to its fullest, and paid the 
penalty with shortened years. He expressed himself 
without reserve being emancipated from superstition 
and precedent. And the man who is not dominated by 
the fetish of custom is marked for contumely by the 
204 



LORD BYRON 



many. Custom makes law, and tKe one who violates 
custom is " bad/' Yet all respectable people are not 
good; and all g6od people are not respectable. If you do 
not know this you are ignorant of life. 
So imagine this handsome, headstrong, restless young 
man, in whose lexicon there was no such word as pru- 
dence, with time and money at his command, defying 
the state, society and religion, and listen to the anath- 
emas that fill the air at mention of his name. 
That a world full of such men would not be at all 
desirable is stern truth ; but that one such man lived is 
a cause for congratulation. His life holds for us both 
warning and example. 

Beneath the strain of the stuff and the onward swirl 
of his verse we see that this man stood for truth and 
justice as against hypocrisy and oppression. Folly and 
freedom are better far than smugness and persecution. 
Byron stood for the rights of the individual, for the 
right of free speech and free thought: and he stood for 
political and physical freedom, long before abolition 
societies became popular. He sided with the people; 
his heart went out to the oppressed; and all of his 
fruitless gropings and stumblings were a reaching out 
for tenderness and truth, for life and love for the IdeaL 



205 



LORD BYRON 




HE father of Byron, the poet, was a captain 
in the army a man of small mental ability, 
whose recklessness won him the sobriquet of 
" Mad Jack Byron." When twenty-three 
years of age he eloped to France with the Baroness 
Conyers, wife of the Marquis of Carmarthen. Happi- 
ness, in a foreign country, for a woman who has 
exchanged one love for another is outside the pale of 
possibilities. Love is much but love is not all. Life is 
too short to break family-ties and adjust one's self to a 
new language and a new country. The change means 
death 33 35 

Two years and the woman died, leaving a daughter, 
Augusta by name, afterward Mrs. Augusta Leigh S& 
Back to England went Mad Jack Byron, broken- 
hearted, bearing in his arms the baby girl. Kind kins- 
men, ready to forgive, cared for the child. Mad Jack 
did n't remain broken-hearted long what would you 
expect from a man ? He sought sympathy among several 
discreet dames, and in two years we find him safely and 
legally married to Catherine Gordon, Scotch, and heir- 
ess to twenty-five thousand pounds. On the occasion of 
the wedding, Jack informed a friend that the fact of the 
lady's being Scotch was forgiven in view of the dowry. 
Most of this fortune went into a rat-hole to help pay 
the debts of the Mad Jack. 

One child was born to this ill-assorted pair a boy 
who was destined to write his name large on history's 
206 



LORD BYRON 



page. But such a pedigree! No wonder the youth once 
wrote to Augusta, his half-sister, expressing a covetous 
appreciation of her parentage, even with its bar sinis- 
ter. In passing, it is well to note the sunshine of this 
love of brother and sister, which continued during life 
confidential, earnest, tender, frank. In their best moods 
they were both lofty souls, and their mutuality was 
cemented in a contempt for the man who was their 
sire. This fine brotherly and sisterly affection comes 
close to us when we remember that it was our own 
Harriet Beecher Stowe, with sympathies worn to the 
quick through much brooding over the wrongs of a race 
in bondage, who rushed into print with a scandalous 
accusation concerning this same sweet affection of 
brother for sister. The charge was brought on no better 
foundation than some old-woman gossip held over the 
hyson when it was red, and moved itself aright all 
vouchsafed to Mrs. Stowe by the widow of Byron in 
Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six. If a woman as good at 
heart as Harriet Beecher Stowe was deceived, why 
should we blame humanity for biting at a hook that is 
not baited? 

No sane dentist will administer an anesthetic to a 
woman, without a witness: not that women as a class 
are dangerous, but because some women can not be 
trusted to distinguish between their dreams and the 
facts. Every practising lawyer of insight also knows 
that a wronged woman's reasons are plentiful as 

207 



LORD BYRON 



blackberries, and must always be taken with large 
pinches of the Syracuse product. 

Mad Jack followed his regiment here and there, dodging 
his creditors, and finally in Seventeen Hundred Ninety- 
one induced his wife to borrow a hundred pounds for 
him, with which he started to Paris intent on retrieving 
fortune with pasteboard. 

He died on the way, and the money was used to bury 
him. The lame boy was then three years old, but a few 
dark memories, no doubt retouched by hearsay, were 
retained by him of Mad Jack, who in his most sober 
moments never guessed that he would be known to the 
ages as the father of the greatest poet of his time. 
Mad Jack was neither literary nor psychic. 
The widowed mother remained at Aberdeen with her 
boy, living on the hundred and fifty pounds a year that 
had been settled on her in a way that she could not 
squander the principal all the rest had gone. 
The child was shy, sensitive, proud and headstrong. 
<I The mother used to reprove him by throwing things 
at him, and by chasing him with the tongs. At other 
times she diverted herself by imitating his limp. And 
yet again she would smother him with caresses, beseech 
his pardon for abusing him, and praise the beauty of 
his matchless eyes. 

Children are usually better judges of grown-ups than 
grown-ups are of children. This boy at five years of 
age had estimated his mother's character correctly. He 
206 



LORD BYRON 



knew that she was not his steadfast friend, and that 
she was unworthy of his confidence and whole heart's 
love. He grew moody, secretive, wilfuL Once, being 
wrongly accused and punished, he seized a knife from 
the table and was about to apply it to his throat when 
he was disarmed. The child longed for tenderness and 
love, and being denied these, was already taking on 
that proud and haughty temper which was to serve 
as a mask to hide the tenderness of his nature. 
We are told that seven brothers Byron fought at Edge- 
hill, but when we get down to the time of Mad Jack 
there was danger of the name being snuffed out entirely. 
Nature is not anxious to perpetuate the idle and dis- 
sipated 33 Si* 

When little George Gordon was ten years old, his 
mother one day ran to him, seized him in her arms, 
wept and laughed, then laughed and wept, kissing him 
violently, addressing him as " My Lord! " 
His great-uncle, William, Lord Byron of Rochdale and 
Newstead Abbey, had died, and the big-eyed, lame boy 
was the nearest heir in fact, the only living male who 
bore the family-name. The next day at school, when 
the master called the roll and mentioned his name with 
the prefix " Dominus," the lad did not reply " Adsum" 
he only stood up, gazed helplessly at the teacher, and 
burst into tears. 

Even at this time he had given promise of the quality 
of his nature, by his firm affection for Mary Duff, his 

209 



LORD BYRON 



cousin. All the intensity of Ms childish nature was 
centered in this young woman, several years his senior. 
To call it a passion would be too much, but this child, 
denied of love at home, clung to Mary Duff, to whom 
he went in confession with all his childish tales of woe. 
When his mother proposed to leave Aberdeen, now 
that fortune had smiled, the anguish of the boy at 
thought of leaving his " first love " nearly caused him 
a fit of sickness. 

And all this wealth of love was met with jeers and 
loud laughter, save by Mary Duff. The vibrating sensi- 
tiveness of such a child, with such a mother, must have 
caused a misery we can only guess. 
" Your mother is a fool/' said a boy to Byron at college 
some years later. 

" I know it," was the melancholy answer, as the brown 
eyes filled with tears. 

When money came, Mrs. Byron's first move was to 
take the lad to Nottingham and place him in charge of 
a surgical quack, who proposed, for a price, to make 
the lame foot just as good as the other, if not better. 
To this effect wooden clamps were placed on the foot 
and screwed down by thumbscrews, causing a torture 
that would have been unbearable to many. 
No benefit was experienced from the treatment, 
although it was continued by another physician at 
London soon after. A schoolfellow of Byron's visited 
fcim in his room when his foot was encased in a wooden 
210 



LORD BYRON 



compress. The visitor noted the white face, and tke 
beads of anguish on the boy's forehead, and at last said, 
** I know you are suffering awfully! " 
" You will never hear me say so," was the grim reply. 
<f The emphasis placed on Byron's lameness has been 
altogether overdone. In fact, as he grew to manhood, 
it was nothing more than a stiffness that would never 
have been noticed in a drawing-room. We have this 
on the testimony of the Countess Guiccioli, Lady 
Blessington and others. Byron himself made the mis- 
take of referring to it several times in his verse, and 
doubtless all the torture he had suffered through ill- 
considered medical counsel, and his mothers taunts, 
caused the matter to take a place in his sensitive mind 
quite out of its due proportion. Sir Walter Scott was 
lame, too, but whoever heard of his discussing it, either 
by word of mouth or in print? 

Of Byron's life at Harrow we have many tales as to 
his defending his juniors, volunteering to take punish- 
ment for them and of lessons unlearned. He could 
not be driven nor forced, and pedagogics a hundred 
years ago, it seemed, was largely a science of coercion. 
Mary Gray, a nurse and early teacher of Byron's, has 
told us that kindness was the unfailing touchstone with 
this boy; no other plan would work. But Harrow knew 
nothing of Froebel methods, and does not yet. 



211 



LORD BYRON 




JYRON'S first genuine love-affair occurred 
when lie was sixteen. The object of this 
affection, as all the world knows, was Miss 
Chaworth, whose estate adjoined Newstead. 
The lady was two years older than Byron, and being of 
a lively nature found a pleasant diversion in leading the 
youth a merry chase. So severe was his attack that he 
was alternately oppressed by chills of fear and fevers of 
ecstasy. He lost appetite, and the family began to fear 
for his sanity. Such a love must find expression some 
way, and so the daily stealthy notes to the young woman 
took the form of rhyme. The lovesick youth was 
revealing considerable facility in this way. It pleased 
him, and did the buxom young woman no harm. 
Beyond the mere prettiness and pinky whiteness of a 
healthy country lass. Miss Chaworth evidently had no 
beauties of character, save those conjured forth from 
the inner consciousness of the poet a not wholly 
original condition. 

Byron loved the Ideal. And this love-affair with Miss 
Chaworth is only valuable as showing the evolution of 
imagination in the poet. The woman had n't the slight- 
est idea that she was giving wings to a soul to her 
the affair was simply funny. 

The fact that Byron's great-uncle, from whom he had 
inherited his title, had killed the grandfather of Miss 
Chaworth in a duel, lent a romantic tinge to the matter 
the boy was doing a sort of penance, and in one of 
212 



LORD BYRON 



his poems hints at the undoing of the sin of his kins- 
man by the lifelong devotion that he will bestow. This 
calling up the past, and incautious revealing of the 
fact that the ancestor Chaworth could not hold his 
own with a Byron, but allowed himself to be run through 
the body by the Byron cold steel, was not pleasing to 
Miss Chaworth. 

" Don't imagine I am such a fool as to love that lame 
boy/' cried Miss Chaworth to her maid one day 33 
Unluckily, " the lame boy " was in the next room and 
heard the remark. 

He rushed from the house with a something gripping 
at his heart. Straightway he would go back to Harrow, 
which he had left in wrath only a few months before. 
So he went to Harrow. 

When he next returned home, his mother met him 
with the remark, " I have news for you; get out your 
handkerchief Miss Chaworth is married/' 
In just another year Byron was home again, and was 
invited to dine with the Chaworths. He accepted the 
invitation, and when he was introduced to a baby girl, 
a month old, the child of his old sweetheart, his emo- 
tions got the better of him and he had to leave the 
room. And to ease his woe he indited a poem to the 
baby 33 33 

Miss Chaworth was not happy with her fox-hunting 
squire. Her mind became clouded, and after some years 
she passed out, in poverty and alone. And if there ever 

213 



LORD BYRON 



came to Her mind any appreciation of the greatness of 
tKe man who tad given her name immortality, we do 
not know it. 

The years from Eighteen Hundred Five to Eighteen 
Hundred Eight Byron spent at Cambridge. The arts in 
which he perfected himself there were shooting, swim- 
ming, fencing, drinking and gambling. 
During vacations, and off and on, he lived at South- 
well, a village halfway between Mansfield and Newark. 
Southwell was sleepy, gossipy, dull and exerted a 
wholesome restraint on our restless youth. It was simply 
a question of economy that took Byron and his mother 
to Southwell. The run-down estate of Newstead wets 
yielding a meager income, but at Southwell one could 
be shabby and yet respectable. 

At Southwell Byron met John Pigot and his sister 
educated, cultured people of a refined and quiet sort. 
Byron took to them at once, and they liked him. 
In a country town the person who thinks, instinctively 
hunts out the other man who thinks granting the 
somewhat daring hypothesis that there are two of them. 
So Byron and the Pigots often met for walks and talks, 
and on such occasions the poet would read to his friends 
the scraps of verse he had written. He had gotten into 
the habit he wrote whenever his pulse ran up above 
eighty he wrote because he could not help it; and he 
read his productions to his friends for the same reason. 
Every one who writes longs to read his work to some 
214 



LORD BYRON 



sympathetic souL A thought is not CHIPS until we repeat 
it to another, and this crying need of expression marks 
every poetic soul. All art is born of feeling, high, 
intense, holy feeling, and the creative faculty is largely 
a matter of temperature. We feel, and not to impart 
our feelings is stagnation death. People who do not 
feel deeply never have anything to impart, either to 
individuals or to the world. They have no message. 
The young man, fresh from the dusty, musty lectures 
of Cambridge, and out of the reach of his boisterous 
and carousing companions, grasped at the gentle, 
refined and sympathetic friendship of this brother and 
sister. The trinity would walk off across the fields and 
recline on the soft turf under a great spreading tree, 
reading aloud by turn from some good book. Such 
meetings always ended by Byron's reading to his friends 
any chance rhymes he had written since they last met, 
<| John Morley dates the birth of Byron's poetic genius 
from his meeting with Miss Chaworth, while Taine 
names Southwell as the pivotal point. Probably both 
are right. 

But this we know, that it was the Pigots who induce^ 
Byron to collect his rhymes and have them printed^ 
This was done at the neighboring town of Newark, 
whoa Byron was nineteen years old* Possibly you have 
a few of these thin, poorly printed, crudely bound little 
books entitled " Juvenilia " around in die garret some- 
where, and, if so, it might be well enough to taka 



LORD BYRON 



care of them. Quaritch says they are worth a hundred 
pounds apiece, although in the poet's lifetime they 
were dear at sixpence. 

Byron sent copies to all the leading literary men whom 
he knew, including Mackenzie, the man of feeling. 
Mackenzie replied, praising the work, and so did several 
others. All writers of note are favored with many such 
juvenilia, and usually there is a gracious electrotype 
reply. A doubt exists as to whether Mackenzie ever read 
Byron's book, but we know that his letter of stock 
platitude fired Byron to do still better. It is said that no 
flattery is too fulsome for a pretty woman she inwardly 
congratulates the man on his subtle insight in discover- 
ing excellences that she hardly knew existed. This may 
be so and may not, but the logic holds when applied 
to fledgling authors. When it comes to praise he is quite 
willing to take your word for it. 

Byron's spirits arose to an ecstacy he would be a poet. 
fl About this time we find Hydra, as Byron pleasantly 
called his mother, rushing to the village apothecary 
and warning that worthy not to sell poison to the poet; 
and a few moments after her leaving, the astonished 
apothecary was visited by the poet, who begged that 
no poison should be sold to his mother. Each thought 
the other was going to turn Lucretia Borgia, or play 
the last act of Romeo and Juliet, at least. 
There were wild bursts of rage on the mother's part, 
stubborn mockery on the other, followed up once by a 
216 



LORD BYRON 



poker flung with almost fatal precision at the poet's 
curly head. 

Upon this he took flight to London and Hydra followed, 
repentant and lacrimose, A truce was patched up; they 
agreed to disagree, and coldly shaking hands withdrew 
in opposite directions. 

After this, when the poet wrote he addressed his 
mother as " Dear Madam,' f and confined himself to 
business matters. Only rarely was there any flash in 
his letters, as when he said, " Dear Mother you know 
you are a vixen, but save me some champagne/' If 
Byron's mother had been of the stuff of which most 
mothers are made, we would have found these two 
safely settled at Newstead, making the best of their 
battered fortune, with the son in time marrying some 
neighbor lass, and slipping into the place of a respect- 
able English gentleman, a worthy member of the House 
of Lords. 

But the boy, now grown twenty, had no home, and 
either was supplied too much money or else too little. 
He wasted his substance in London, economized in 
Southwell, sponged on friends, and borrowed of Scrope 
Davis at Cambridge. When a remittance again came, 
he explored the greenrooms, took lessons from Professor 
Johnson, the pugilist (referred to as my corporeal 
pastor "), drank whole companies under the table, 
bought a tame bear and a wolf to guard the entrance 
of Newstead, and roamed the country as a gipsy, in 

217 



LORD BYRON 



company with a girl dressed in boy's clothes, thus 
supplying Richard Le Gallienne an interesting chapter 
in his ** Quest of the Golden Girl/* 
But all this time his brain was active, and another 
book of poetry had been printed, entitled " Hours of 
Idleness/* This book was gotten out, at his own expense, 
by the same country printer as the first. 
Surely the verse must have had merit, or why should 
Lord Brougham, in the great " Edinburgh Review," go 
after it with a slashing, crashing, damning criticism? 38 
When Byron read the review, a bystander has told us 
he turned red, then livid green. He straightway ordered 
and drank two bottles of claret, said nothing, but looked 
like a man who had sent a challenge. 
A challenge! that was exactly what Byron proposed* 
He would fight Jeffrey first, and then take up in turn 
every man who had ever contributed to the magazine 
he would kill them all. And to that end he called for 
his pistols and went out to practise firing at ten paces. 
Wiser counsel prevailed, and he decided to attack the 
enemy in their own citadel, and with their own weapons. 
He ordered ink, and began " English Bards and Scotch 
Reviewers/' 33 $ 

It took time to get this enormous siege-gun into posi- 
tion and find the range. Finally, it was loaded with 
more kinds of missiles, in the way of what Augustine 
Birrell has called literary stinkpots, than were ever 
before rammed home in a single charge S& It was an 
213 



LORD BYRON 



audacious move to reverse the initiative and go after 

a whole race of critics, scribblers and reviewers, who 

had been badgering honest folks, and blow *em into 

kingdom come. 

But at the last moment Byron's heart failed him, his 

wrath gave way to caution, and " English Bards and 

Scotch Reviewers " appeared anonymously. 

The edition was soon exhausted the shot had at least 

raised a mighty dust. 

The author got his nerve back, fathered the book, 

made corrections; and this edition, too, sold with a 

rush. Byron returned to Newstead, invited a score of 

his Cambridge cronies, who came down, entering the 

mansion between the bear and the wolf, and were 

received with salvos of pistol-shots. Here they played 

games over the spacious grounds, wrestled, boxed, 

swam, and at night feasted and drank deep damnation. 

out of a skull to all Scotch reviewers. 

Probably the acme of this depravity was reached when 

the young gentlemen began shooting the pendants off 

the chandelier; then the servants hastily decamped 

and left the rogues to do their own cooking. 

This brought them to their senses, sanity came back* 

and the company disbanded. Then the servants, who 

had watched the orgies from afar, returned and found a 

week's pile of dishes unwashed and a horse stabled in 

the library* 

219 



LORD BYRON 




HEN Byron had reached the mature age of 
twenty-one, he was formally admitted to the 
House of Lords as a Peer of the realm. His 
titles and pedigree were so closely scanned on 
this occasion that he grew quite out of conceit with the 
noble company, and was seriously thinking of launching 
a dunciad in their direction. His good nature was espe- 
cially ruffled by Lord Carlisle, his guardian, who refused 
to stand as his legal sponsor. The chief cause of the old 
Lord's prejudice against the young one lay in the fact 
that the young 'un had ridiculed the old 'un's literary 
pretensions 33 They were rivals in letters, with a very 
beautiful, natural and mutual disdain for each other $ 
Lord Byron was not welcomed into the House of Lords: 
he simply pushed in the door because he had a right 
to. He thirsted for approbation, for distinction, for 
notoriety. His sensitive soul hung upon newspaper 
clippings with feverish expectations; and about all the 
attention he received was in the line of being damned 
by faint praise, or smothered with silence. Patriotism, 
as far as England was concerned, was not a part of 
Byron's composition. 

When all Great Britain was execrating Napoleon, pic- 
turing him as a devil with horns and hoofs, Byron 
looked upon him as the world's hero. 
In this frame of mind he went forth and borrowed a 
goodly sum, and started cut to view the world. He was 
accompanied by his friend Hobhouse, and his valet, 
220 



LORD BYRON 



Fletcher, fit was a two years' trip, this jolly trio made 
down along the coast of France, Spain, through the 
Straits of Gibraltar, lingering in queer old cities, mous- 
ing over historic spots, alternately living like princes or 
vagabonds. They frolicked, drank, made love to married 
women, courted maidens, fought, feasted and did all the 
foolish things that sophomores usually do when they 
have money and opportunity. 

These months of travel supplied Byron enough in way 
of suggestion to keep him writing many moons. His 
active imagination seized upon everything picturesque, 
peculiar, romantic, sentimental or tragic, and stored 
it up in those wondrous brain-cells, to be used when the 
time was ripe. 

The disciples of Munchausen, who delight in showing 
Byron's verse to be only biography, have found a rich 
field in that two years' travel. One man really did a 
brilliant thing in three volumes recounting the con- 
quering march of the poet, whom he depicts as a combi- 
nation of Don Juan and Rob Roy. 
The probabilities are that the real facts, not illumined 
by fancy, would be a tale with which to conjure sleep. 
Foreign travel is hard work. It constitutes the final 
test of friendship, and to make the tour of Europe 
with a man and not hate him marks one or both of the 
parties as seraphic in quality. The best of travel is in 
looking back upon it from the dreamy quiet and rest of 
home laughing at the things that once rasped your 

221 



LORD BYRON 



Serves, and enjoying, through recollection, the scenes 
you only glanced at wearily. 

Two instances of that trip when Hobhouse threatened 
to desert the party and was dared to do so, and Byron 
slapped Fletcher's face and got himself well kicked in 
return will suffice to show how Byron had the faculty 
t>f seizing trivial incidents, and by lifting them up and 
separating them from the mass, made them live as Art. 
f At Athens the trio made a sudden resolve to be 
respectable, and practise economy. To this end they 
hired rooms of a worthy widow, who accommodated 
travelers with a transient home for a moderate stipend. 
This widow had three daughters: the eldest, Theresa 
by name, lives in letters as the Maid of Athens, and 
the glory that came to her was achieved without any 
special danger to either her heart or the poet's. The 
young woman, we know, assisted in the household 
affairs; and probably often dusted the mantel in the 
poet's room while he sat smoking with one foot on the 
table, making irrelevant remarks to her about this or 
that & 33 

Suddenly he wrote a poem, " Maid of Athens, ere we 
part, give, O give me back my heart/' * * * 
With the genuine literary thrift that marked all of 
Byron's career, he preserved a copy of the lines, and 
some years after recast them, touched them up a bit, 
included the stuff in a book and there you are. 
The other incident is that of Hobhouse recording m 
222 



LORD BYRON 



Ms journal the bare and barren fact that outside the 
city wall in Persia they once saw two dogs gnawing a 
human body* Byron saw the sight, but made no men- 
tion of it at the time. He waited, the scene sealed up 
in his brain-cells. Years after he wrote thus : 

"And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall, 
Hold o'er the dead their carnival; 
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb, 
They were too busy to bark at him. 
From a Tartar's skull they stripped the flesh, 
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh; 
And their white tusks crunched on the whiter skull, 
As it slipped through their jaws when the edge grew 
dull/' 

And this only proves that Hobhouse was not a poet 
and Byron was. The poet is uxever content to state the 
mere facts; facts are only valuable as suggestions for 
poetry 3& S& 

Travel often excites the spirit to the point of exprefir 
sion. Good travelers carry pads and pencils. Byrop 
reached England with fragments of marbles, skujts, 
pictures, shells, spears, guns, curios beyond count, 
and many manuscripts in process. 
Upon arriving on the English coast the first p$ws that 
reached him was that his mother had just died. He 
hastened to Newstead and reached there in tipie to 
attend the funeral, but refrained frpm following the 

223 



LORD BYRON 



cortege to the grave because he could not master his 
emotions. Their quarrels were at last ended. 
A diversion to his feelings came soon after, in the way 
of a blunt letter from Tom Moore demanding if Lord 
Byron was the author of " English Bards and Scotch 
Reviewers/' 3$ 33 

Byron replied very stiffly that he was, but he really 
had intended no insult to Mr. Moore, with whom he 
had not the honor of being acquainted. Furthermore, 
if Mr. Moore felt himself aggrieved, why, the author 
of " English Bards " was at his service to supply him 
such satisfaction as he required. 

The irate Irishman accepted " the apology/* a genial 
reply followed, and soon the poets met at the house of 
a friend, and there began that lifelong friendship, with 
the result that Moore wrote Byron's "Life" and used 
much needless whitewash. 

While abroad Byron had gotten into shape for publica- 
tion one piece of manuscript. This was " Hints From 
Horace/' and the matter was placed in the hands of 
Mr. Dallas, his businessman, very soon after his arrival. 
Dallas read the poem and did not like it. 
" Have n't you anything else? " asked Dallas. 
" Oh, nothing but a few stanzas of Spenserian stuff/' 
was the answer. 

Dallas asked to see it, and there were placed in his 
hands rough drafts of the first and second cantos of 
*' Childe Harold/' This time Dallas was better suited, 
224 



LORD BYRON 



and to corroborate his judgment the matter was sub- 
mitted to Murray, the publisher. 

Murray thought the matter had more or less merit, and 
arrangements were at once made for its publication. 
And so it came out, hammered into shape while in the 
printer's hands. 

" Childe Harold " was an instantaneous, brilliant suc- 
cess a success beyond the publisher's or author's 
expectations. The book ran through seven editions in 
four weeks, and Lord Byron " became famous in a 
night." 53 53 

London society became Byron-mad. The poet was feted, 
courted, petted 53 He indulged in much innocent and 
costly dissipation, and some not so innocent. 
Finally all this began to pall upon him. When twenty- 
six we find him making a bold stand for reform: he 
would get married and live a staid, sober, respectable 
life. His finances were reduced all* the money he had 
made out of his books had been given away, prompted 
by a foolish whim that no man should take pay for the 
product of his mind. 

Now he would marry and "settle down"; and to 
marry a woman with an income would be no special 
disadvantage. To sell one's thoughts was abhorrent to 
the young man, but to marry for money was quite 
another thing. Morality depends upon your point of 
view 53 53 

The paradox of things found expressfon when Byron 

225 



LORD BYRON 



the impressionable, Byron the irresistible, sat himself 
down and after chewing the end of his penholder, 
wrote a letter to Miss Milbanke, with whom he was 
only slightly acquainted, proposing marriage. The lady 
very properly declined. To be courted with a fresh- 
nibbed pen, and paper cut sonnet-size, instead of by a 
Eve man, deserves rebuke. Men who propose by mail 
to a woman in the next town are either insincere, self- 
deceived, or else are of the sort whose pulse never goes 
above sixty-five, and therefore should be avoided S3 
Byron was both insincere and self-deceived. He had 
grown to distrust the emotions of his heart, and so 
selected a wife with his head. He chose a woman with 
income, one who was strong, cool-headed, safe and 
sensible. Miss Milbanke was the antithesis of his mother, 
f The lady declined but that is nothing. 
They were married within a year. 

In another year tKe wife left her husband and went 
back to her mother, carrying in her arms a girl baby, 
only a few weeks old. 
She never returned to her husband. 
What the trouble was no one ever knew, although the 
gossips named a hundred and one reasons running 
from drunkenness to homicide. But Byron, the world 
now knows, was no drunkard he was at times con- 
vivial, but he had no fixed taste for strong drink. He 
was, however, peevish, impulsive, impetuous and often 
very unreasonable, 
226 



LORD BYRON 



Byron, be it said to his credit, brought no recriminating 
charges against his wife. He only said their differences 
were inexplicable and unexplainable. 
The simple facts were that they breathed a different 
atmosphere their heads were in a different stratum. 
His normal pulse was eighty; hers, sixty-five. 
What do you think of a spiritual companionship where 
the wife demands, "How much longer are you going to 
follow this foolish habit of writing verses? " 
They did not understand each other. Byron uttered 
words that no man should voice to a woman, and his 
outbursts were met with a forced calmness that was 
exasperating. The lady sat down, yawned wearily, and 
when there came a lull in the gentleman's verbal 
pyrotechnics, she would ask him if he had anything 
more to say. 

One day she varied the program by packing up her 
effects and leaving him. 

Of course, it is easy to say that had this woman been 
wise she would have stood the childish outbursts and 
endured the peevish tantrums, for the sake of the 
hours of tenderness and love that were sure to follow. 
By right treatment he would have been on his knees, 
begging forgiveness and crying it out with his head 
in her lap very shortly. But all this implies a woman 
of unusual power extraordinary patience. And this 
woman was simply human. She left, and then in order 
to justify her action she gave reasons* Our actK>f*s are 

227 



LORD BYRON 



usually right, but our reasons for them seldom are 3l 
Mrs. Byron made no concealment of her troubles. 
Society had occasion for gossip and the occasion was 
improved. Stories of Byron's cruelty and inhumanity 
filled the coffeehouses and drawing-rooms; and the 
hints at crimes so grave they could not even be men- 
tioned gave the gossips their cue. 

The press took it up, and the poet was warned by his 
friends not to appear at the theater or upon the street 
for fear of the indignation of the mob. The spoilt child 
of London was paying the penalty of popularity. The 
pendulum Kad swung too far and was now coming back. 
<I Byron, hunted by creditors, hooted by enemies, 
broken in health, crushed in spirit, left the country 
left England, never to return alive. 
When Byron trod the deck cf the good ship bound for 
Ostend, and saw a strip of tossing, blue water sepa- 
rating him from England, his spirits rose. He was 
twenty-eight years old, and the thought that he would 
yet do something and be somebody was strong in his 
heart. All the old pride came back. 
The idea that he would not sell the product of his 
brain for hire was abandoned, and soon after arriving 
in Holland he began to write letters home, making 
sharp bargains with publishers. 

Further than this, his attorneys, on his order, made 
demand for a share of his wife's estate. And erelong 
we find Byron, the wasteful, cultivating the good old 
228 



LORD BYRON 



gentlemanly habit of penuriousness. He was making 
money, and had he lived to be sixty it is probable he 
would have evolved into a conservative and written a 
book on " Getting on in the World, or Success as I 
Have Found It/* 

Byron's pilgrimage down through Germany, along the 
Rhine to Switzerland, was one of rest and recreation. 
At Berne, Basle, Lausanne and Geneva he found food 
for literary thought, and many instances in his writings 
show the reflected scenes he saw. No visitor at Lausanne 
f ails to visit the Castle of Chillon, and all the guides will 
recite you these sweeping lines, so surcharged with 
feeling, beginning: 

" Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls; 
A thousand feet in depth below, 
Its many waters meet and flow/' 

At Geneva began the most interesting friendship 
between Byron and that other young man, so like and 
yet so unlike him. 

Only a few years and Byron was to search the shores 
of the Mediterranean for Shelley's dead body, and find- 
ing it, be one of the friends who reduced it to ashes $ 
Tiring of Geneva and the tourists who pointed him out 
as a curiosity, we find Byron and his little party making 
their way across the Simplon, to cross which is an 
epoch in the life of any man, and then down by the 
Lago Maggiore to Milan 33 " The Last Supper'* of 

229 



LORD BYRON 



Leonardo da Vinci did not impress Byron the art of 
painting never did this was his most marked limita- 
tion. From Milan they wandered down through Italy 
to Verona and Venice. 

The third Canto of " Childe Harold/* " Manfred," and 
dozens of shorter poems had been sent to Murray. 
England read and paid for all that Byron wrote, and 
accepted it all as autobiography. Possibly Byron's de- 
fiant manner lent an excuse for this, but by applying 
similar rules we could convict Sophocles, Schiller and 
Shelley of basest crimes, put Shakespeare in the dock 
for murder, Milton for blasphemy, Scott for forgery, and 
Goethe for questionable financial deals with the devil. 
Byron's sins were as scarlet and the number not a few, 
but the moths that came just to flit about the flame 
were all of mature age. Byron set no snares for the 
innocent, and in all of the man's misdoings, he himself 
it was who suffered most. 

The Countess Guiccioli, it seems, was the only woman 
who comprehended his nature sufficiently to lead him 
in the direction of peace and poise. With her, for the 
first time, he began to systematize his life on a basis of 
sanity. They lived together for five years, and'from the 
time he met her until his death no other love came to 
separate them. 

Throughout his life Byron was a man in revolt; and 
it was only a variation of the old passion for freedom 
that led him to Greece and to his grave. The personal 
230 



LORD BYRON 



bravery of the man was proven more than once In his 
life, and on the approach of death he was undismayed. 
When he passed away, April Nineteenth, Eighteen 
Hundred Twenty-four, Stanhope wrote, ** England has 
lost her brightest genius Greece her best friend." 33 
His body was returned to England, denied burial in 
Westminster, and now rests in the old church at Huck- 
nall, near Newstead. 



231 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




JOSEPH ADDISON 



Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life, 
My bane and antidote, are both before me. 
This in a moment brings me to an end; 
But this informs me I shall never die. 
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles 
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point. 
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself 
Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years; 
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth, 
Unhurt amid the war of elements, 
The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds! 

Cato a Soliloquy 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




EN are not punished for their sins, 
but by them. 

Expression is necessary to life. The 
spirit grows through exercise of its 
faculties, just as a muscle grows 
strong through use. Life is expres- 
sion and repression is stagnation 
death 33 S& 

Yet there is right expression and wrong expression. If a 
man allows his life to run riot, and only the animal side 
of his nature is allowed to express itself, he is repressing 
his highest and best, and therefore those qualities, not 
used, atrophy and die. 

Sensuality, gluttony and the life of license repress the 
life of the spirit, and the soul never blossoms; and this 
is what it is to lose one's soul. All adown the centuries 
thinking men have noted these truths, and again and 
again we find individuals forsaking, in horror, the life 
of the senses and devoting themselves to the life of the 
spirit 35 S& 

The question of expression through the spirit or through 
the senses through the soul or the body has been the 
pivotal point of all philosophies and the inspiration of 
all religions. Asceticism in our day finds an interesting 
manifestation in the Trappists, who live on a mountain, 
nearly inaccessible, and deprive themselves of almost 

235 



JOSEPH ADDISON 

every vestige of bodily comfort; going without food for 
days, wearing uncomfortable garments, suffering severe 
cold. So here we find the extreme instance of men repress- 
ing the faculties of the body in order that the spirit 
may find ample time and opportunity for exercise. 
Between this extreme repression and the license of the 
sensualist lies the truth. But just where, is the great 
question; and the desire of one person, who thinks he 
has discovered the norm, to compel all other men to 
stop there, has led to war and strife untold. All law 
centers around this point what shall men be allowed 
to do? And so we find statutes to punish '* strolling 
play-actors," "players on fiddles," "disturbers of the 
public conscience," " persons who dance wantonly," 
" blasphemers," etc. In England there were, in the year 
Eighteen Hundred, sixty-seven offenses punishable with 
death 33 33 

What expression is right and what is not is largely a 
matter of opinion. Instrumental music has been to some 
a rock of offense, exciting the spirit, through the sense 
of hearing, to wrong thoughts through " the lascivious 
pleasing of a lute." Others think dancing wicked, while 
a few allow square dances, but condemn the waltz. 
Some sects allow pipe-organ music, but draw the line 
at the violin; while others, still, employ a whole orches- 
tra in their religious service. Some there may be who 
regard pictures as implements of idolatry, while the 
Hook-and-Eye Baptists look upon buttons as immoral* 
236 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



flf Strange evolutions are often witnessed within the life 
of one individual, as to what is right and what wrong. 
For instance, Leo Tolstoy, that great and good man, 
once a worldling, has now turned ascetic, a not unusual 
evolution in the lives of the saints. Not caring for har- 
mony as expressed in color, form and sounds, Tolstoy 
is now quite willing to deprive all others of these things 
which minister to their well-being. There is in most 
souls a hunger for beauty, just as there is a physical 
hunger. Beauty speaks to their spirits through the 
senses; but Tolstoy would have his house barren to 
the verge of hardship, and he advocates that all other 
houses should be likewise. My veneration for Count 
Tolstoy is profound, but I mention him here simply to 
show the danger that lies in allowing any man, even 
one of the best, to dictate to us what is right. 
Most of the frightful cruelties inflicted on mankind 
during the past have arisen out of a difference of opinion 
arising through a difference in temperament. The ques- 
tion is as live today as it was two thousand years ago 
what expression is best? That is, what shall we do to be 
saved? And concrete absurdity consists in saying we 
must all do the same thing. 

Whether the race will ever grow to a point where men 
will be willing to leave the matter of life-expression to 
the individual is a question. Most men are anxious to 
do what is best for themselves and least harmful for 
others. The average man now has intelligence enough I 

237 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



Utopia is not far off, if the self-appointed folk who gov- 
ern us for a consideration would only be willing to do 
unto others as they would be done by, and cease cov- 
eting things that belong to other people. War among 
nations, and strife among individuals, is a result of the 
covetous spirit to possess either power or things, or 
both. A little more patience, a little more charity for 
all, a little more devotion, a little more love; with less 
bowing down to the past, a brave looking forward to 
the future, with more confidence in ourselves, and more 
faith in our fellows, and the race will be ripe for a 
great burst of light and life. 

Macaulay has said that the Puritan did not condemn 
bear-baiting because it gave pain to the bear, but be- 
cause it gave pleasure to the spectator. The Puritan 
regarded beauty as a pitfall and a snare : that which gave 
pleasure was a sin; he found his gratification in doing 
without things. Puritanism was a violent oscillation of 
the pendulum of life to the other side. From the vanity, 
pretense, affectation and sensualism of a Church and 
State bitten by corruption, we find the recoil in Puritan- 
ism 53 3& 

Asceticism to the verge of hardship, frankness bordering 
on rudeness, and a stolidity that was impolite; or soft, 
luxurious hypocrisy in a moth-eaten society which 
shall it be? And Joseph Addison comes upon the scene 
and by the sincerity, graciousness and gentle excellence 
of his life and work, says, '* Neither! " 
238 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




HE little village of Milston, Wiltshire, is noted 
as the birthplace of Addison, who was the son 
of a clergyman, afterward the Dean of Lich- 
field. An erstwhile resident of Lichfield, 
Samuel Johnson by name, once said of Joseph Addison, 
" Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar 
but not coarse, elegant but not ostentatious, must give 
his days and nights to the volumes of Addison/* 
For elegance, simplicity, insight, and a wit that is sharp 
but which never wounds, Addison has no rival, although 
more than two hundred years have come and gone since 
he ceased to write. 

Addison was a gentleman the best example of a per- 
fect gentleman that the history of English literature 
affords. And in letters it is much easier to find a genius 
than a gentleman. The field today is not at all over- 
worked; and those who wish to cultivate the art of 
being gentlemen will find no fearsome competition. 
In fact, the chief reason for not engaging in this line is 
the discomfort of isolation, and the lack of comrade- 
ship one is sure to suffer. To be gentle, generous, kind; 
to win by few words; and to disarm criticism and 
prejudice through the potency of a gracious presence, 
is a fine art. Books on etiquette will not serve the 
end, nor studious attempts to smile at the proper time, 
nor zealous efforts to avoid jostling the whims of those 
we meet; for to attempt to please is often to antagonize. 
<S Sympathy, Knowledge and Poise seem the three 

239 



JOSEPH ~ADDISON 

ingredients most needed in forming the gentle man. I 
place these elements according to their value. No man 
is great who does not possess Sympathy plus, and th^ 
greatness of men can safely be gauged by their sym* 
pathies. Sympathy and imagination are twin sisters. 
Your heart must go out to all men, the high, the low, 
the rich, the poor, the learned, the unlearned, the good, 
the bad, the wise, the foolish you must be one with 
them all, else you can never comprehend them. Sym* 
pathy! It is the touchstone to every secret, the key 
to aU knowledge, the open sesame of all hearts. Put 
yourself in the other man's place, and then you \vill 
know why he thinks certain thoughts and does certain 
deeds. Put yourself in his place, and your blame will 
dissolve itself into pity, and your tears will wipe out 
the record of his misdeeds. The saviors of the world 
have simply been men with wondrous Sympathy* 
But Knowledge must go with Sympathy, else the 
emotions will become maudlin and pity may be wasted 
on a poodle instead of a child; on a field-mouse instead 
of a human soul. Knowledge in use is wisdom, and 
wisdom implies a sense of values you know a big 
thing from a little one, a valuable fact from a trivial 
one. Tragedy and comedy are simply questions of 
value: a little misfit in life makes us laugh, a great one 
is tragedy and cause for grief. 

Poise is the strength of body and strength of mind to 
control your Sympathy and your Knowledge, Unless 
240 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



you control your emotions they Tun over and you stand 
in the slop. Sympathy must not run riot, or it is value- 
less and tokens weakness instead of strength. In every 
Hospital for nervous disorders are to be found many 
instances of this loss of control. The individual has 
Sympathy, tut not Poise, and therefore his life is 
worthless to himself and to the world. 
He symbols inefficiency, not helpfulness. Poise reveals 
itself more in voice than in words; more in thought than 
in action ; more in atmosphere than in conscious life. 1 1 is 
a spiritual quality, and is felt more than it is seen. It is 
not a matter of size, nor bodily attitude, nor attire, nor 
personal comeliness: it is a state of inward being, and 
of knowing your cause is just. And so you see it is a 
great and profound subject after all, great in its rami- 
fications, limitless in extent, implying the entire science 
of right living. I once met a man who was deformed in 
body and little more than a dwarf, but who had such 
Spiritual Gravity such Poise that to enter a room 
where he was, was to feel his presence and acknowl- 
edge his superiority. To allow Sympathy to waste itself 
on unworthy subjects is to deplete one's life-forces. 
To conserve is the part of wisdom. No great orator 
ever exerts himself to his fullest, and reserve is a nec- 
essary element in all good literature, as well as in 
everything else. Poise being the control of your Sym- 
pathy and Knowledge implies the possession of these 
attributes, for without Sympathy and Knowledge you 

241 



JOSEPH ADDISON 

have nothing to control but your physical body. To 
practise Poise as a mere gymnastic exercise, or a study 
in etiquette, is to be self-conscious, stiff, preposterous 
and ridiculous. Those who cut such fantastic tricks 
before high heaven as make angels weep are men void 
of Sympathy and Knowledge trying to cultivate Poise. 
Their science is a mere matter of what to do with arms 
and legs. Poise is a question of spirit controlling flesh, 
heart controlling attitude. And so in the cultivation of 
Poise it is well to begin quite aways back. Let perfect 
love cast out fear; get rid of all secrets; have nothing 
in your heart to conceal; be gentle, generous, kind; 
do not bother to forgive your enemies it is better to 
forget them, and cease conjuring them forth from your 
inner consciousness. The idea that you have enemies 
is egotism gone to seed. Get Knowledge by coming 
close to Nature, listening to her heart-beats, studying 
her ways. And let your heart go out to humanity by a 
desire to serve. 

That man is greatest who best serves his kind. Sym- 
pathy and Knowledge are for use you acquire that you 
may give out; you accumulate that you may bestow. 
And as God has given you the sublime blessings of 
Sympathy and Knowledge, there will come to you the 
wish to reveal your gratitude by giving them out again, 
for the wise man knows that we retain spiritual quali- 
ties only as we give them away. Let your light shine. 
To him that hath shall be given. The exercise of wisdom 
242 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



brings wisdom ; and at the last the infinitesimal quantity 
of man's knowledge, compared with the Infinite, and the 
meagerness of man's Sympathy when compared with 
the source from which ours is absorbed, will evolve an 
abnegation and a humility that will lend a perfect 
Poise. The Gentleman is a man with Sympathy, Knowl- 
edge and Poise; and as I sit here in this quiet corner, 
Joseph Addison seems to me to fit the requirements a 
little better than any other name I can recall. 



243 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




ORN into a family where economy was a 
necessity, yet Addison had every advantage 
that good breeding and thorough tutorship 
could give. 

At Charterhouse School he won the affection of his 
teachers by his earnest wish to comply. The receptive 
spirit and the desire to please were his by inheritance. 
When fifteen he went to Queen's College, Oxford, where, 
within a year, his beauty, good nature and intelligence 
made his presence felt. 

In another year he was elected a scholar at Magdalen 
College, his recommendation being his skill in Latin 
versification 33 33 / 

It was the hope and expectation of his parents that he 
should become a clergyman and follow in his father's 
footsteps. This also seems to have been the bent of the 
young man's mind. But the grace of his personality, his 
obliging disposition, with a sort of furtive ability to 
peer into a millstone as far as any, had attracted the 
attention of several statesmen. One of these, Charles 
Montague, afterward Lord Halifax, remarked, " I am 
a friend of the Church, but I propose to do it the injury 
of keeping Addison out of it." 

Montague discussed the matter with Lord Somers, and 
these two concluded that just a trifle more maturity of 
that gently ironical mind, a little more seasoning of 
the gracious personality, and the State would have in 
Joseph Addison a servant of untold value. 
244 



JOSEPH ADDIS_ON 



Thus we see that England's policy of selecting and 
training men for the consular and diplomatic service 
is no new thing. It is a wonder that America has not 
ere this profited by the example. The tradition holds 
that we must at least have a scholar and a gentleman 
for the Court of Saint James, and several times we have 
been put to straits to find the man. The only way is to 
breed them and then bring them up in the way they 
should go. 

But beyond the zealous desire of Montague and Lord 
Somers to educate good men for the diplomatic service, 
lurked the still more eager wish to secure able writers 
to plead and defend the party cause. With this phase 
of the question America is more familiar; the policy of 
rewarding able speakers and ready writers with offices 
ready made or made to order has come to us ably 
backed by precedent untoldL 

Addison set himself to literary tasks, but still regarded 
himself as a scholar. Leisure fitted his temperament 
lie was never in haste, even when he was in a hurry, 
and he carried with him the air of having all the time 
there was* Nothing is so ungraceful as haste. Addisoa 
always had time to listen; and we make friends, not by 
explaining things to other folks, but by allowing others 
to explain to us. 

The habit of attentive, sympathetic listening came to 
Addison early in life. From his twenty-first to his 
twenty^seventh year he lived a studious life idle, his 

245 



JOSEPH ADDISON 

father called it writing essays, political pamphlets 
and Latin verse. His political friends took care that 
some of the output was purchased, so that he was 
assured a comfortable living; but his success was not 
sufficient to inflate his cosmos with an undue amount 
of ego 33 33 

One small book of criticism which he produced about 
this time was entitled, "Account of the English Poets/' 
A significant feature of the work is that Shakespeare 
is not mentioned, even once, while Dryden is placed 
as the standard of excellence, just as in " Modern Paint- 
ers/' Ruskin takes Turner and lets him stand for one 
hundred, and all other artists grade down from this 33 
Addison merely reflected the taste of his time* Shake- 
speare was not thought any more of two hundred years 
ago than we think of him now, with this difference 
that he is the author we now talk about and seldom 
read, but then they did not discuss him any more than 
we now go to see him played. 

An interesting character by the name of Jacob Tonson 
appears upon the scene, as a friend of Addison in his 
early days. Tonson enjoyed the distinction of being the 
father of the modern publishing business the first 
man to bring out the works of authors at his own risk 
and then sell the product to bookstores. I believe it is 
Mr* Le Gallienne who has been so unkind as to speak 
of ** Barabbas Tonson/' Among Tonson' s many good 
strokes was his act in buying the copyright of *' Paradise 
246 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



Lost** from Simmons, the bookseller, who had pur- 
chased all rights in the manuscript from the bereaved 
widow on a payment of eight pounds. 
Tonson appreciated good things in a literary way. He 
was on friendly terms with all the principal writers, 
and did much in bringing some shy writers to the front. 
Addison and Tonson laid great plans, few of which 
materialized, and some were carried out by other people 
notably the compilation of an English Dictionary. 
In Sixteen Hundred Ninety-nine we find Addison, in 
possession of a pension of three hundred pounds a year, 
crossing the Channelinto France with the object " to 
travel and qualify himself to serve His Majesty/* 
The diplomatic language of the world was French. 
With intent to learn the language, Addison made his 
home with a modest French family; and a better way 
of acquiring a language than this has never been devised. 
A young friend of mine, however, recently returned 
from Europe, tells me that the ideal plan is to make 
love to a vivacious French girl who can not speak 
English. Of the excellence of this plan I know nothing 
it may be a mere barren ideality. 

A little over a year in France and we are , told that 
"Addison spoke the language like a native " a glib 
expression, still able-bodied, that means little or much. 
From France Addison followed down into Italy, and 
spent a year there, residing in various small towns 
with the same object in view that took him to France. 

247 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



And one of his admirers relates that " he learned to 
speak Italian perfectly, his pronunciation being marred 
only by a slight French accent." Addison's three years 
of foreign travel, and the friendly society of the highest 
and best wherever he journeyed, had caused him to 
blossom out into a most exceptional man. Nature had 
done much for him, but her best gift was the hospitable 
mind. Travel to many young men is the opportunity 
to indulge in a line of conduct not possible at home. 
But Addison, ripening slowly, appreciated the fact that 
the Puritan has a deal of truth on his side. There is a 
manly abstinence that is most becoming, and to mod- 
erate one's desires and partake of the good things of 
earth sparingly is the best way to garner their benefit. 
No doubt, too, Addison's modesty and tendency to 
shyness saved him from many a danger. " Bashfulness 
is the tough husk in which genius ripens/' says Emerson^ 
Thus do we find our man at thirty, strong, manly, 
gifted, handsome, chivalrous, proud, yet tender, sym- 
pathetic, knowing ready to serve his country in what- 
soever capacity he could serve it best. When lo! the 
death of the King cut off his pension, a new party came 
in, his influential friends were thrown out of power, and 
Addison's prospects wilted in a single night* 



248 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




HE fact is that Addison from his thirtieth to 
his fortieth year was little better than a deni- 
zen of Grub Street. Fortunately he was a 
bachelor, with no one but himself to support, 
else actual hardship might have entered. Several flatter- 
ing offers to act as tutor or companion to rich men's 
sons came his way, and were declined in polite and 
gracious language; and once a suggestion that he wed a 
woman of wealth was tabled in a manner not quite so 
gracious. In passing, it is well to state that all of 
Addison's relations with women seem to have occupied a 
lofty plane of chivalry. His respect for the good name of 
woman was profound, and whether any woman ever 
broke through that fine reserve and exquisite formality 
is a question. He was intensely admired by women, of 
course, but it was from the other side of the drawing- 
room. He kept gush at bay, and never tempted to 
indiscretion 33 53 

Addison's youth was past; he was creeping well into 
the thirties, and still with no prospects. He was out 
of money, with no profession, and no special reputation 
as a writer. The popular poets of the time were Sedley, 
Rochester, Buckingham and Dorset and you have 
never heard of them? Well, it only shows how a literary 
reputation is a shadow that fades in a night. 
Addison had written his " Cato " several years before* 
but no one had seen it. He carried the manuscript about 
with him, as Goethe did his " Faust," for years, and 

249 



JOSEPH ADDISON 

added to it, or erased, all according to the moods that 
came to him. And we have reason to believe that the 
sublime soliloquy in "Cato" was written by Addison 
when the blankness of his prospects and the blackness 
of the future had forced the question of self-destruction 
upon him 53 53 

Cato made a great mistake in committing suicide he 
did the deed right on the eve of success he should 
have waited. Addison waited. 

At this time Lord Godolphin, who had the happiness 
to have a great racehorse named after him, occupied 
the chief place in the Ministry. Marlborough had just 
fought the battle of Blenheim, and it was Godolphin's 
wish to have the victory sung in adequate verse, for 
history's sake and for the sake of the political party. 
But he could not think of a poet who was equal to the 
task; so in his dilemma he called in Lord Halifax, who 
had a reputation for knowing good things in a literary 
way 33 53 

Lord Halifax was unfortunate in having his portrait 
transmitted by two poets who hated him thoroughly, 
each for the amply sufficient reason that he failed to 
confer the favors that were much desired. Swift calls 
Halifax " a would-be Maecenas "; and Pope refers to 
him as " penurious, mean and chicken-hearted,*' satir- 
izing him in the well-known character of Bufo. 
Do not take the poets too seriously: all good men have 
had mud-balls thrown at them sometimes bricks and 
250 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



Halifax was not a bad man by any means. Let the poets 
make copy of their thwarted hopes. 
In reply to Lord Godolphin's inquiries, Halifax said Ke 
did indeed know the man who could celebrate the 
victory in verse, and in fact there was only one man 
in England who could do the task justice. He, however, 
refused to divulge his man's identity until a suitable 
reward for the poet was fixed upon. 
Godolphin finally thought of an office in the Excise, 
worth three hundred pounds a year or more. 
Halifax then stipulated that the negotiations must be 
carried on directly between the Government and the 
poet, otherwise the poet's pride would rebel. Godolphin 
agreed to shield Halifax from all mention in the matter, 
and the name and address of Joseph Addison were 
then taken down. 

Godolphin had never heard of Addison, but relying on 
Halifax, he sent Boyle, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
to the address named, where Addison was found over 
a haberdasher's, up three flights, back. The account 
comes from Pope, who was the enemy of both Addison 
and Halifax, and can therefore be relied upon. 
The Chancellor of the Exchequer broached the subject, 
was gently repulsed, the case was argued, and being 
put on the plane of duty the poet surrendered, and as 
a result we have Addison's poem, " The Campaign/' 
It was considered a great literary feat in its day, but 
like all things performed to order, comes tardy off. Only 

251 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



work done in love lives. But Addison slid! into the 
Excise office, taking it as legal tender. This brought 
him into relationship with Godolphin* who one day 
exclaimed, " I thought that man Addison was nothing 
but a poet I 'm a rogue if he is n't really a great man! " 
Lord Godolphin was needing a good man, a man of 
address, polish, tact and education. And Addison was 
selected to fill the office of Under-Secretary of State, 
the place for which he had fitted himself and to which 
he had aspired eight years before. Moral: Be prepared. 
fThe party that called Addison was not the one to 
which he was supposed to be attached, but his merits 
were recognized, his help was needed, and so he was 
sent for. It was a great compliment. But good men are 
always needed they were then, and the demand is 
greater now than ever before. The highest positions are 
hard to fill good men are scarce. 

Addison's knowledge, his modesty, his willingness, his 
caution, his grace of manner, fitted him exactly for the 
position; and we have reason to believe that the salary 
of one thousand pounds a year was very acceptable to 
one in his situation. 

In another year the Whigs had grown stronger; Halifax 
was again a recognized power; and erelong we find 
Addison entering Parliament. So great was his popu- 
larity that he was elected from one district six times, 
representing Malmesbury until his death. 
It was stated by Congreve that Addison's habit of 
252 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



shyness was an affectation. If so, it was a good stroke, 
for nothing is so becoming in a man known to be versa- 
tile and strong as a half-embarrassment when in society. 
The Duke of Wellington's awkwardness in a drawing- 
room put all others at their ease. The eternal fitness 
of things demands that when greatness is in evidence 
some one should be embarrassed, and if the celebrity 
is " it," so much the better. 

Personally, I feel sure that Addison's shyness was not 
feigned, for on the only occasion he ever attempted to 
speak ex-tempore in Parliament he muffed the subject, 
forgot his theme, and sat down in confusion. With all 
his incisive thought and fine command of language, 
Addison could not think on his feet. And as if aware 
of his limitations, in one of the " Spectator " essays he 
said, with more or less truth, " The fluent orator, ready 
to speak on any topic, is never profound, and when once 
his thought is cold it will seldom repay examination it 
was only a skyrocket/* 



253 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




ITHOUT Addison's literary reputation, rest- 
ing upon his essays published in the " Tatler " 
and the " Spectator/* it is very possible that 
we would now know about as much concern- 
ing him as we do about Sir John Hawkins. The "Tatler'* 
and the " Spectator " allowed him to express his best, 
and in his own way. 

With the name of Addison is inseparably coupled that 
of Richard Steele. These men had a literary style 
which they held in partnership. The nearest approach 
to it in our time is the " Easy Chair " of George William 
Curtis. Curtis was once called by Lowell, with a goodly 
degree of justice, f< our modern Addison." 
Steele and Addison had been schoolmates at the Charter- 
house, and friends for a lifetime. They were of the same 
age within a year. Steele had been a soldier and an 
adventurer, and his disposition was decidedly convivial. 
He was a clever writer, knowing the world of politics 
and society, but he lacked the spiritual and artistic 
qualities which Addison's moderate and studious life 
had fostered. But on simple themes, where the argu- 
ment did not rise above the commonplace, Addison 
and Steele wrote exactly alike, Just as all writers on 
the ** Sun " used to write like Dana. Steele had filled 
the lowest office in the Ministry, the office of " Gazet- 
eer " : the duties of the office being to issue a newspaper 
giving the official news of the day. It was a licensed 
monopoly, and all infringers were severely punished. 
254 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



Steele, however, did not like the office, because the 
Powers demanded that all writing in the " Gazette " 
be very innocent and very insipid. " To publish a news- 
paper and say nothing is no easy task/' said Steele. 
Had he lived in our day he could have seen the trick 
performed on every hand. 

Finally the office of Gazetteer was abolished, and any 
man who wished might issue a " gazette/' provided 
he kept within proper bounds. The result was a flight 
of small leaflet periodicals, quite like the Chapbook 
Renaissance of Eighteen Hundred Ninety-five and 
Eighteen Hundred Ninety-six, when over eleven hun- 
dred " brownie " and " chipmunk " magazines were 
started in America. Every man with two or three ideas 
and ten dollars' capital started a magazine. Steele, 
teeming with thoughts demanding expression, at war 
with smug society, and possessing wit withal, started the 
" Tatler/' to be issued three times a week, price one 
penny. Seizing upon a creation of Swift's, " Isaac 
Bickerstaflf," a character already known to the public, 
was introduced as editor. Bickerstaff announced his 
assistants, and among others named as authority in 
Foreign Affairs a waiter at Saint James Coffeehouse 
known as " Kidney/ 5 The spirit of rollicking freedom 
in the publication, with a touch of philosophy, and a 
dash of culture, caught the public fancy at once. The 
" Tatler " was the theme in every coffeehouse, and in 
the drawing-rooms, as well- Those who understood it 

255 



JOSEPHTADDISON 

laughed and passed it along to others who pretended 
they understood, and so it became the fad. Then the 
anonymity lent the charm of mystery who could it be 
who was into all the secrets, and knew the world so 
thoroughly? S3 $5 

Addison read each issue with surprise and amusement, 
but it was not until the fifth number that he located the 
author positively, by reading an observation of his own 
that he had voiced to Steele some weeks before. Steele 
absorbed everything, digested it, and gave the good 
out as his own, innocent and probably unmindful of 
where he got it. This accounts for his wonderful ver- 
satility: he made others grub and used the net result. 
[ Some years ago Francis Wilson made a mock com- 
plaint to the effect that whenever he met Eugene Field 
in the " Saints and Sinners Corner " for a half-hour's 
chat, any good thing he might voice was duly printed 
next day in the " Sharps and Flats " column as Field's 
very own, and thus did the genial Eugene acquire his 
reputation as a genius. All of which gentle gibing con- 
tains more fact than fiction. 

When Addison saw his bright thoughts appearing in 
the " Tatler," he went to Steele and said, " Here, I '11 
write that out myself and save you the trouble." Steele 
welcomed him with open arms. The first " Tatler *" 
article written by Addison relates to the distress of 
news-writers at the prospect of peace. This is exactly 
in Steele's style; but we find erelong in the " Tatler ** 
256 ' 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



a spiritual quality that was not a part of Steele' s nature. 
From current gossip and easy society commonplace, 
the tone is exalted, and this we know was the result 
of Addison's influence. Out of two hundred seventy-one 
articles in the " Tatler," one hundred eighty-eight were 
produced by Steele and forty-two by Addison. Yet 
Steele was wise enough to perceive the superior quality 
of Addison's work, and this dictated the key in which 
the magazine was pitched. Yet the fertility of Steele 
surpassed that of Addison. Steele initiated the crusade 
against gambling, dueling and vice; and this was all very 
natural, for he simply inveighed against sins with which 
experience had made him familiar. His moral essays 
were all written in periods of repentance. His sharp 
tirades on dueling in one instance approached the point 
of personality, and on being criticized, he resented the 
interference and expressed a willingness to fight his 
man with pistols at ten paces. It must not be forgotten 
that Richard Steele was an Irishman. 
The political tone of the " Tatler " favored the Marl- 
borough administration, and on this account Steele 
was rewarded with a snug office under the wing of the 
State. In Seventeen Hundred Ten, the Whig Ministry 
fell, but Lord Harley knew the value of Steele as a 
writer, and so notified him that he would not be dis- 
turbed in possession of his Stamp Office. 
Now, a complete silence concerning things political in 
the " Tatler " was hardly possible, and a change of 

257 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



front would be humiliating, and whether to give up the 
" Tatler " or the office that was the question! Addison 
was in the same box. The offices they held brought 
them in twice as much money as the little periodical, 
and either the patronage or the paper would have to 
go. They decided to abandon the " Tatler," 
But the habit of writing sticks to a man; and after two 
months Steele and Addison began to feel the necessity 
of some outlet for their pent-up thoughts. They had 
each grown with their work, and were aware of it. 
They would start a new paper, and make it a daily; 
and they would keep clear of politics. So we find the 
" Spectator " duly launched with the intended purpose 
of forming " a rational standard of conduct in morals, 
manners, art and literature/* 

Every good thing hats its prototype, and Addison in 
Italy had become familiar with the force of c< Manners " 
by Casa, and the " Courtier " by Castiglione. Then he 
knew the character of La Bruyere, and this gave the 
cue for the Spectator Club, with Sir Roger de Coverley, 
Sir Andrew Freeport, Will Honeycomb, Captain Sentry 
and the Templar. 

Swift had contributed several papers to the ** Tatler," 
but he found the " Spectator " too soft and feminine 
for his fancy. Probably Steele and Addison were afraid 
of the doughty Dean's style; there was too much vitriol 
in it for popularity and they kept the Irish parson at a 
distance, as certain letters to " Stella " seem to indicate. 
258 



JOSEPH ADDISON" 



The " Spectator '* was a notable success from the start 
and soon put Steele and Addison in comfortable 
financial shape 33 After the first year the daily issue 
amounted to fourteen thousand copies. Addison intro- 
duced the "Answers to Correspondents " scheme. 
He has had many imitators along this line, some of 
whom yet endure, but they are not Addisons. 
An imitation of the *' Spectator " was started as a daily 
in New York in Eighteen Hundred Ninety-eight. In one 
week it ran short on phosphorus and was obliged to 
quit. It took two years for Steele and Addison to write 
themselves out, and rather than let the quality of the 
periodical decline they discontinued its publication, 
quitting like the wise men they were at the height of 
their success. 



259 



JOSEPH ADDISON 




]HEN Addison's tragedy of " Cato " was pro- 
duced in Seventeen Hundred Thirteen, he 
occupied the first place in English letters. The 
play was a dazzling success; and it is a great 
play yet. It lives as literature among the best things 
men have ever done a masterpiece! 
Addison still continued in the service of the State, and 
wrote more or less in a political way. The strain of 
carrying on the " Spectator " and the stress of political 
affairs had tired the man. The spring had gone out of his 
intellect, and he began to talk of some quiet retreat in 
the country. In Seventeen Hundred Sixteen, in his 
forty-fourth year, he married the Countess of Warwick, 
a widow of fifteen years* standing. We have reason to 
believe that the worthy widow did the courting and 
literally took our good man captive. He was depressed 
and worn, and longed for rest and gentle, sympathetic 
companionship. She promised all these the buxom 
creature and married him, taking him to her home at 
Holland House. Yes, it would be unjust to blame her; 
doubtless she wished to do for the man what was best; 
and so report has it that she exercised a discipline 
over his hours of work and recreation and curtailed a 
little there and issued orders here, until the poor patient 
rebelled and fled to the coffeehouses. There he found 
the rollicking society that he so despised and loved, 
for there was comradeship in it, and comradeship was 
what he prayed for. His wife did not comprehend 
260 



JOSEPH ADDISON 



that delicate, spiritual quality of his heart: that craving 
for sympathy which came after he had given out so 
much. He wanted peace, quiet and rest; but she wished 
to take him forth and exhibit him to the throng. Yet 
all of her admonitions that he " brace up " were in vain* 
His work was done. He foresaw the end, and grew 
impatient that it did not come. Placid, resigned, sane 
to the last hour, he passed away at Holland House, 
June Seventeenth, Seventeen Hundred Nineteen, aged 
forty-seven. His body, lying in state, was viewed by 
more than ten thousand people, and then it was laid to 
rest in the Poets* Corner, Westminster Abbey 55 



261 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 




KOBERT SOUTHEY 



Let no man write 

Thy epitaph, Emmett; thou shalt not go 
Without thy funeral strain! young and good, 
And wise, though erring here, thou shalt not go 
Unhonored or unsung. And better thus 
Beneath that undiscriminating stroke, 
Better to fall, than to have lived to mourn, 
As sure thou wouldst, in misery and remorse, 
Thine own disastrous triumph * * * * 
How happier thus, in that heroic mood 
That takes away the sting of death, to die, 
By all the good and all the wise forgiven! 
Yea, in all ages by the wise and good 
To be remembered, mourned, and honored still! 

Southey to Robert Emmett 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 




OST generally, when I travel, I go 
alone this to insure being in good 
company. To travel with another 
is a terrible risk: it puts a great 
strain on the affections. 
I once made the tour of Scotland 
with a man who was traveling for 
his health. He had kidney-trouble 
belief. I had known the man in a casual way for several 
years, and we started out the best of friends, antici- 
pating a good time. We were gone three weeks, and 
when we got back I hated the fellow thoroughly, and I 
have every reason to believe that he fully reciprocated 
the sentiment. 

And yet he was an honest man, and I am, too, although 
not an extremist. There was nothing to quarrel about; 
it began at Euston Station, where I bought third-class 
tickets. He said he preferred to ride first-class, or 
second, at least there was such a thing as false 
economy 35 3& 

I asked him why he had not said something along this 
line before I had purchased the tickets. 
He retorted that I had not consulted his preference in 
the matter. I brought in a mild rejoinder by moving 
the previous question, and showing that he, himself, 
had proposed that I should take entire charge of 

265 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



the arrangements, using my own good judgment at all 
times 53 53 

He said something about his error in supposing he 
was traveling with a discerning person. Just then the 
guard came along, slamming the doors, and we were 
pushed into a third-class carriage, where we enjoyed 
an all-day journey together. 

At Edinburgh my companion wished to ascend the 
Scott monument, visit a friend at the University, and 
buy a plaid rug at one of the shops in Princess Street; 
while I proposed to look up the footprints of Bobbie 
Burns and John Knox. He said, " Confound John 
Kncx! " I answered, " You evidently think I am refer- 
ring to Knox the Hatter! " He grew mad as a hatter, 
and I had to defend John Knox, and later had to do the 
same for Rab and his friends, as well as for Christopher 
North 53 53 

And so it went he pooh-poohed my heroes; and I 
scorned the friend he wished to find at the University, 
smiled patronizingly on the Scott monument, and said, 
** hoot mon " at the idea of buying a plaid rug in 
Princess Street. 

All this was many years ago; since then I have been 
very cautious about entering into any Anglo-American 
alliances. Yet to travel alone often seems to be drop- 
ping something out of your life. When the voyage is 
rough, the weather bad and the fare below par, my 
spirits always rise. I say to myself: " My son, this is 
266 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



certainly tough but who cares! We can stand it, we 
have had this way right along year after year but 
just imagine your plight if there were some one in your 
charge expecting a good time! " 

Then I drink to Boreas and all the fiends of Gehenna, 
and am supremely content. 

But suppose the night is resplendent with stars, the 
waves tremulous with reflected beauty, and as the great 
ship goes gliding across the deep proud, strong and 
tireless there come to you thoughts sublime and emo- 
tions such as Wagner knew when he wrote the " Pil- 
grims' Chorus/' 

But you are not happy, simply because you want to 
tell some one how happy you are. What is the star- 
light for, save to call some one's attention to, or the 
phosphorescent sheen except to be pointed out and 
enjoyed by two> Exquisite beauty, as revealed in 
music, painting, sculpture or beautiful scenery, affects 
me at times to tears; and there always comes creeping 
into my life a profound sadness, a dread homesickness, 
to think that in this wealth of peace and joy I am 
alone alone. 

Can you stand by yourself on a hillside and look across 
a beautiful little lake to the woods beyond; or walk 
through a pine-forest, where the needles sink as a car- 
pet beneath your feet, and the air is full of the pungent 
odor of the pine, and the gently swaying tree-tops over- 
head croon youa lullaby can you enjoy all this without 

267 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 

an exquisite melancholy, and a joy that hurts, piercing 
your soul? It 's homesickness, that 's all ; you want to go 
home and tell some one how happy you are. Give me 
solitude, sweet solitude, but in my solitude give me 
still one friend to whom I may murmur, Solitude is 



sweet 53 53 



268 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 




HAT about the sea and the forest, the wooded 
hillside and the little lake may not be the 
exact words, but the thought is there just as 
White Pigeon expressed it to me that evening 
when we sat on the mossy bank of the lake at Grasmere 
and threw pebbles into the water. 
I had come up from Liverpool to Bowness, walked over 
to Ambleside and along the lake to Grasmere. My 
luggage consisted of a comb, a toothbrush and a stout 
second-growth East Aurora hickory stick. 
At Grasmere I applied at the Red Lion Inn for supper 
and lodging. The landlady looked at my dusty, rusty 
corduroys, paused, coughed and asked where my lug- 
gage was. Wishing to be honest, I displayed the luggage 
aforementioned. She did not smile. She was a large 
person, sober, sedate, sincere and also serious, with a 
big bunch of keys dangling from a waist that once was 
Grecian. And she told me right there that if I wanted 
accommodations I would have to pay in advance. I 
demurred, pleaded and finally explained that I had lost 
my money and had sent to New York for a remittance. 
I was a remittance-man. Had this been true, it were sad, 
yet I had a hundred pounds sterling in my belt; but it 
just came to me to see how it would feel to be penniless 
and friendless and plead for charity. It is not hard to 
plead for charity when one has a pocket full of money* 
<I So I pleaded. But it was of no avail. ; 

I requested a drink pf water. This was denied. Then I 

269 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



asked if I could wash in the lake; and this favor was 
granted, and the advice volunteered that it would be a 
good thing to do. And further the kind lady made 
a motion toward a dangling red tassel that hung from a 
rope, and suggested that I get me to a gunnery and 
quickly, too, otherwise she would have to call the 
porter 53 & 

I felt to see that my money was all right to assure 
myself it was no jest in earnest and departed. Being 
singularly psychic to suggestion I followed the thought 
that I wash in the lake, and started in that direction, 
along a footpath that led across a meadow, over a stile. 
A thick growth of bushes lined the lake for aways, 
and then the footpath seemed to follow right through 
the undergrowth. I pushed the green branches aside, 
and continued along for about a hundred feet, when I 
stood on the green, grass-covered bank of the beautiful 
" Winderrnere." Daffodils lined the water's edge the 
daffodils of Wordsworth down the lake were the 
white wings of several sailboats; the sun had gone 
down, but his long rays of gold still pierced the sky, 
while across the water arose, silent and majestic, the 
dark purple hills. 

It was a beautiful sight so full of quiet and peace and 
rest. I stood with hat in hand, the evening breeze fan- 
ning my face, enjoying the scene. Just then there was 
a little splash in the water, and looking down I saw a 
woman with back toward me sitting on a boulder, 
270 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



tossing pebbles into the lake. By the side of the woman 
were her hat and book. I was on the point of softly 
backing out through the bushes, when it came to me 
that I had seen that head with its big coil of brown 
hair somewhere else but where, ah, where! 
Why, in Paris, two years before. It was White Pigeon. 
f She had not seen me. I retraced my steps, and then 
came crashing through the juniper, straight over to the 
bankside, where I sat down about twenty feet from the 
good lady. I was whistling violently and throwing peb- 
bles into the water, not even glancing toward her. She 
let me whistle for a full minute and then said gently: 
" Do not be absurd! I know you/' Then we both 
laughed, and I, of course, did the regulation thing, 
and asked, " When did you arrive, and where are you 
going, and how do you like it? " 

" You see what I am doing here, and as for when I 
arrived and how long I '11 stay, and how I like it what 
difference is it? There, you are surprised to see me, 
are n't you? I thought you had gotten past being sur- 
prised at anything, long ago only silly people are sur- 
prised you once said it, yourself! " 
Then White Pigeon ceased to speak and we simply 
gazed into each other's eyes. White Pigeon has gray 
eyes that sometimes are blue and sometimes amber 
it all depends upon her mood and the thoughts reflected 
there. The long, sober gaze stole off into a half-smile 
and she said, " You got things awfully ^ixed up in that 

271 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



Rosa Bonheur booklet why not stick to truth? " 33 
" Truth/' I replied, " is hideous, and facts are like 
some men, stubborn things. But what was the matter 
with the Bonheur Little Journey? " 
" You will not be angry with me? " 
" How could I be? " 
" You promise? " 

( \r 

Yes. 

" Well, you said my cousin was a conductor on the 
Lake Shore you knew perfectly well it was the Mich- 
igan Central! " 
I apologized. 

It had been two years since I had seen this woman, 
and not a letter had passed between us. I had sent her 
a book now and then, and she had sent me a sketch 
or two 33 33 

White Pigeon knows nothing about me, and never 
asked concerning my history, which is a blank, my 
lord! Does the lily inquire of the humming-bird, *' Hast 
hummed and fluttered about other flowers? " 
That is a charming friendship that asks nothing, makes 
no demands, needs no assurances, never falters, and is 
so frank that it disarms prudery and pretense. 
I said as much. 

White Pigeon made no answer, but flung a pebble into 
the lake 33 33 

And all I know of White Pigeon is that she was born 
in White Pigeon, Michigan, and had left there ten years 
272 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



before to study art for a short time in Paris. <HThe 
short time extended to ten years. 

White Pigeon does not call herself an artist she only 
copies pictures in the Louvre and gives lessons. " Not 
being able to paint, I give lessons,'* she once said to 
me. The first pictures she copied were sold to kind 
gentlemen who make many wagons at South Bend, 
Indiana; other pictures went to men who have inter- 
ests at Ivorydale; and some have gone to the mill- 
owner at Ypsilanti, for the mill-owner is interested in 
art, as all patrons of the " Hum Journal " know. 
White Pigeon lived at Paris because one must needs 
live somewhere, and rich Americans sometimes send her 
their daughters to * * finish. ' ' That was what took her over 
to the Lake District she was traveling with two young 
women from Grand Rapids. And so these three women 
were doing Great Britain, and White Pigeon was acting 
as courier, chaperone and instructor. 
** I need ' finish/ " I suggested in one of the long pauses. 
" I was just going to suggest it," said the lady. 
" You say you are going to Sou they 's old home tomor- 
row may I go, too? " I ventured. 
And the answer was, " Of course if you will promise 
not to work me up into copy." 
I promised. 

I found lodgings that night at " Nab Cottage." Being 
well recommended, the landlady did not hesitate, but 
gave me the best accommodations her house afforded. 

273 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



I Hartley Coleridge does not live at " Nab Cottage " 
now a moss-covered slab marks his resting-place up 
at the Grasmere Churchyard, and only a step away in a 
very straight row are similar old headstones that token 
the graves of William, Dorothy and Mary Wordsworth. 
Hartley Coleridge had most of the weaknesses of his 
father, and only a few of his better traits. Yet Southey 
brought up the children of Coleridge and gave them 
just as good advantages as he did his own. 
" It is not * advantages ' that make great men it is 
disadvantages! " said White Pigeon. We were eating 
breakfast at the table set out under the arbor, back of 
the Coleridge cottage Grace, Myrtle, White Pigeon 
and I 3333 

Grace and Myrtle were the Grand Rapids girls, and 
fine girls, too pink and twenty, with diaries and auto- 
graph-fans. Girls of that age are charming, but they 
only interest me as do beautiful kittens or colts. Women 
do not become wise or discreet until they are past 
thirty. White Pigeon was past thirty. 
We took the stage that morning at nine o'clock for 
Keswick. The stage started from the Red Lion Inn. It 
is a great event the starting of a four-horse stage. The 
guests came out, and so did the boots, and chamber- 
maids and waiters, and the cook came also. They stood 
in line and bade the parting guests godspeed, and all 
the guests were supposed to express gratitude tangibly* 
The landlady was busy* flying about like a Plymouth 
274 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



Rock hen with a brood of ducks. She saw me handing 
up the pink-and-white Grace and Myrtle and the dig- 
nified, tailor-made White Pigeon, and she came out 
and apologized profusely for not having had room to 
accommodate me the night before. 
At last all the hatboxes and bloomin* luggage were 
safely stowed, the trunks were lashed in place behind, 
and I climbed to the top of the stage and took my 
seat beside my charges. A merry blast was blown from 
the tallyho horn. A man with a red coat, high white 
hat, kid gloves and a brick-dust complexion mounted 
the box and gathered up a big handful of reins. The 
hostlers at the heads of the leaders let go, twenty 
feet of whiplash went singing through the air and we 
were off! 

We swung through the village with more majesty and 
clatter than the Empire State Express ever assumed, 
stopping just an instant at the post-office for a bag of 
mail that the brick-dusty driver caught with his feet, 
and then away we went. 

I am sorry I did not live in stagecoach times things 
are now so dead and dreary and prosaic. Yet I some- 
times have imagined that today the stagecoach business 
in England is a little stagey many things are done 
to heighten effects. For instance, the intense excitement 
of starting is not exactly necessary why the mad 
rush? No one is really in a hurry to reach a certain 
place at a certain time! And all this is apparent when 

275 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



you notice that a mile out of town the pace subsides to a 
lazy dog-trot, and the boots has jumped down and 
unchecked each horse so as to make things easy. I was 
glad the boots got down, for whenever I see a horse's 
head checked up in the air my impulse is to uncheck 
him and once on Wabash Avenue in Chicago I did. 
I was arrested, and it cost me five. 
The road to Keswick bristles with history. Coleridge, 
Wordsworth and Southey tramped it many a time, and 
since their day, thousands of literary pilgrims have 
come this way. That two poets-laureate should have 
come from this beautiful corner of the earth of course 
is interesting, but the honor of being poet-laureate to 
the King is a shifting honor, depending upon the poet. 
No title can ever really honor a man, although a man 
may honor a title, and no King by taking thought can 
add a cubit to a subject's stature. The man Is what he 
is. Southey succeeded the poet Pye, who was laureate 
before him S& A weaker nature than mine might here 
succumb to temptation and play pleasant philological 
pranks concerning the poet Pye, but I am above all that. 
Pye was a good man, and if I could remember any of 
the lines he wrote, I would here introduce them; but this 
is doubtless unnecessary, for the gentle reader can 
recall to suit. 

White Pigeon claimed that Pye was greater than 
Southey, and she further said that Tennyson's reputa*- 
tion suffered by consenting to act as successor to thlis 
276 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



line of men in whom felicity and insight were the 
exception. The tierce of Canary was no pay for acting as 
successor to Pye, but Southey jumped at the Canary 
and slipped his last vestige of radicalism quickly, 
" Oh, what a funny little church/* exclaimed Myrtle; 
** can't we stop and go in? " 

It is a curious little building that church at Wyth- 
burn 33 53 

It looks like a little girl's playhouse, that might have 
belonged to her great-great-grandmother. 
Opposite this lovely little church is a tavern, where a 
lovely barmaid in white apron and lovely collar and 
cuffs stood in the doorway, ready to serve the thirsty. 
The red-coated driver pulled in on the tavern side, and 
men in neckerchiefs, hobnailed shoes, blue woolen 
stockings and knee-breeches made fussy haste to water 
the horses. Old Brick-Dusty climbed down to see a man 
in the tavern, and the Michigan contingent and Colonel 
Littlejourneys slid down the other side and went into 
Wythburn Church. There is n't another church in Eng- 
land so peculiar and so interesting. A pew is marked 
sacred to Wordsworth, and one also to Harriet Mar- 
tineau, who I did not know before ever went to church. 
The silver service was the gift of Southey, and is 
inscribed \yith his name and crest. Southey was a 
vestryman of Wythburn Church for many years, and 
sometimes read the service there. I stood in the pulpit 
where Southey stood, and so did White Pigeon, and I 

277 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



reminded her that she would never be allowed there on 
Sunday, for Deity is most easily approached and influ- 
enced by men, as all theologians know and have ever 
stoutly held. One of the busy hostlers came in, pulling 
his forelock, and apologizing, in a voice full of cobwebs, 
said that the coach was ready to start* We did the 
proper thing, and also as much for the red-coated 
driver, who, in spite of great dignity, we saw was open 
to reward for well-doing. It was a great mistake, though, 
to " cross his palm," for he began a lecture on the 
Cumberland Kings, that lasted until we got to Thirl- 
mere, where he stopped at the Pumping-Station, and 
told us how the city of Manchester got its water-supply 
from here. To him all things were equally interesting. 
He was still deep in the fight between Manchester 
aldermen and the 'Ouse of Commons when we reached 
Castle Rigg. The Vale of Keswick opened before us. 
We implored the well-informed driver to stop, and then 
we got down and begged him to go on without us. 
Seated there on the bankside we viewed the beautiful 
scene of lake, valley and village stretching out so peace- 
fully before us, all framed in the dark towering hills. 
Even Grace forgot to say, " How lovely! " but sat there, 
chin in hand, rapt and speechless. 

Down in that valley, just a little to one side of the vil- 
lage, Southey lived for over forty years, and all the 
visitors he really liked he took to Castle Rigg, to show 
them as he said, " the kingdoms of the earth/' It was 
278 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



a view of which he never tired, Coleridge came up this 
way first, and took lodgings with a Mr. Johnson, who 
owned Greta Hall. It is not on record that Coleridge paid 
any rent, but he was so charmed with the location that 
he induced Southey to come and visit him. Southey 
came and liked it so well that he remained. He per- 
formed here a life- task that staggers one to contemplate: 
fifty volumes or more of closely set type are shown you 
at the Keswick Museum, duly labeled, " The Works of 
Southey/' Charles Lamb's *' Works " were the East 
India ledgers, but he wrote one little book of Essays 
that are still sweet and fresh as wood-violets essays 
written hot from the heart, often in tears; written 
because he could not help it, or to please Mary he 
did not know which. 

No man ever divided his time up more systematically 
than Southey. He produced political and theological 
essays, histories, poems, diatribes, apologies and crit- 
icisms, and worked as men work in the Carnegie Con- 
solidated Steel Works. 

Robert Southey was the precocious son of a Bristol 
linen-draper. Being rather delicate, his parents did not 
set him to work in a drygoods-store, but gave him 
the benefit of Oxford. The thing that brought him first 
into prominence was an article he wrote for '* The 
Flaggellant," a college paper, wherein he ridiculed the 
idea of a devil. Now the powers did not like that the 
creed called for a " personal devil/' and they wanted 

279 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



one. They summoned young Southey before them to 
account for speaking disrespectfully of the devil. The 
youth was found guilty and expelled. 
He was a reckless young man, but recklessness is its 
own check in fact, all things in life are self-regulating, 
everything is limited. Southey's secret marriage with 
Edith Fricker tamed him. Nothing tames men like 
marriage; and when babies came, and Coleridge went 
to Germany, leaving Mrs. Coleridge and young Hartley 
in his charge, Southey realized he was dealing with a 
condition, not a theory. Then soon he had the widowed 
Mrs. Lovell with her brood on his hands, and his old 
dream of pantisocracy was realized, only not just as 
he expected. 

Too much can not be said for the patience and unflinch- 
ing fidelity shown by Southey in shouldering the bur- 
dens that Fate sent him, 

"Any man can succeed with three good women to help 
him! " said White Pigeon. 

"True/* said I, "and next in importance to the person 
who originates a good thing is the one who quotes it.'* 
Men weighted with responsibilities fight for the estab- 
lished order. Southey *s pension and his steady income 
came from the men in power, and he made it his business 
not to offend them. Southey was a scholar ; he associated 
with educated people; and once he complained because 
he could not get acquainted with workingmen they 
shut up like clams on his approach. Of course they 
280 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



did, for we are simple and sincere only with our own. 
<I Learned, scholarly and cultured men are to be pitied, 
for they are ever the butt, byword and prey of the 
untaught, who are often the knowing. As success came 
to Southey he lost the sense of values, that is to say, 
the sense of humor. He attacked Byron with great 
severity, and Byron's reply was the dedication of Don 
Juan, " To the illustrious Poet-Laureate, Robert 
Southey, LL. D." It was as if the play of " Sappho " 
were dedicated to the Reverend Doctor Parkhurst. 
Southey came out with a card declaring he had given 
Lord Byron no permission to dedicate any of his 
detestable works to him. Byron replied, acknowledging 
all this, but saying he had a right to honor the name of 
Southey, if he chose, just the same. No taint of excess 
or folly marks the name of Southey; his life was filled 
with good work and kind deeds. His name is honored by 
a monument in the village of Keswick, and in Cros- 
thwaite Church is another monument to his memory, 
the inscription being written by Wordsworth* 



281 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 




ERE Heaven a place, I still politely maintain, 
it would probably be located in the Lake 
District of England. 

Every man of genius the world has ever pro- 
duced has come from a little belt of land in the North 
Temperate Zone. Snow and cold, rock and mountain, 
danger and difficulty these are the conditions required 
to make men. The heaven of which I can conceive is a 
place with plenty of oxygen, sunshine and water. In a 
mountainous country water runs (I hope no one will 
dispute this) and winds blow, and running water and 
air in motion are always pure. 

When I have no thoughts worth recording I take a 
walk, and the elements, which seem to carry soul, fill 
me to the brim. 

The Tropics may have much to offer in way of soft, 
luxurious creature comforts. But the Tropics supply 
sundry and divers discomforts as well, and really offer 
too much; for with the flowers, vines, fruits and never- 
ending foliage go mosquitoes, tarantulas, and snakes 
that wiggle and sometimes bite. 

The climate of Cumberland does not overpower one 
the air is of a quality that urges you on to think and 
do 53 33 

By no reach of imagination can one conjure forth 
anything more beautiful in Nature than is to be realized 
in vicinity of Keswick; and no home thereabouts sur- 
passes Greta Hall in charm of location and quiet, simple 
282 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



beauty* f Greta Hall is a rambling pile, constructed 
partly of stone and partly of wood, evolved rather than 
built, for evidently the work was done by many hands, 
and stretched over a century or more of time. Vines and 
flowers, fruits and shrubbery, stone walls covered close 
by creeping bellflowers where birds chirrup and cheep 
and play hide-and-seek the livelong day all these are 
there. The house is situated on a little wooded plateau 
that overlooks the lake, and back of it the solemn and 
everlasting hills stand guard. There are no such moun- 
tains here as one sees in Switzerland, overpowering, 
vast, awful in their majesty; but just green-topped, 
self-sufficient and friendly hills that invite you to lift 
up your eyes and be strong. 

Visitors are welcome to the grounds at Greta Hall at 
all times, and the kind old gardener who showed us 
about gathered us bouquets of mignonette, rue and 
thyme, and gave us the history of a wonderful pear- 
tree that had turned into a vine and now covers one 
whole side of a stable thirty feet long. Even a tree will 
lose its individuality if it is not allowed to assert its 
nature and care for itself. That particular pear-tree, we 
were told, sprang from a slip planted by Shelley when 
he once came here on a visit to Southey; and we were 
further told that the year Shelley was drowned, the 
leaves of this tree turned pale and withered, and only 
by patient, loving nursing on the part of our old gar- 
dener's father was its life saved. The residence was 

283 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



closed the day we were there, in dread anticipation 
of Cook tourists with designs on the shrubbery, we 
had reason to believe, but we lingered around the 
grounds, listened to the soothing, rippling lullaby of 
the Greta, watched the strutting peacocks, and ate 
bread-and-milk, under the trees, out of big bowls sup- 
plied us by the old gardener for the most modest of 
considerations 33 53 

Southey never really mixed in the wealth of beauty 
that covers this beautiful corner of earth. He was 
learned and profound, and he took himself and the 
Church and the State seriously. He felt himself a part 
of an indestructible institution, whereas man and all 
his works are no more peculiar, no more wonderful 
than an ant-hill and last only a day longer. He never 
realized that he was a part of the great whole that 
made up mountain, lake, globe, wooded glen and tire- 
less river. He differentiated. He considered himself a 
man, an educated man, and therefore a little better, 
and a little above, and a little outside of it all other- 
wise how could he have withered at the top at the 
early age of sixty-seven ? 

This question White Pigeon asked as we sat in the 
dim quiet of Crosthwaite Church, down in the village. 
I did not attempt to reply people do not ask questions 
expecting, necessarily, to have them answered. We ask 
questions in order to clarify our own minds. 
The warning blast of the coach-horn was heard, and 
284 



ROBERT SOUTHEY 



we went out into the sunshine. I bade my three friends 
good-by (first placing my autograph on Grace's and 
Myrtle's fans), and they climbed to the top of the 
coach, I sat on the stone wall and watched them until 
they disappeared around the bend of the road, waving 
handkerchiefs. That night I made my way over to 
Penreith on the way to Carlisle. It had been a day 
brimming with thought and feeling, and beauty ex- 
pressed and unexpressed, and the kindness of kind 
friends who understand. That night as I dozed off into 
deep, calm sleep I said to myself: ** They were great 
men, those Lake Poets, and the world is better because 
they lived. But there will come other men and they will 
be greater than those gone the best is yet to be." SS 



285 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 




SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



Beneath the blaze of a tropical sun the mountain peaks 
are the Thrones of Frost, this through the absence of 
objects to reflect the rays S& What no one with us 
shares, seems scarce our own we need another to 
reflect our thoughts. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 




AMUEL T. COLERIDGE was a 
thinker, and thinkers are so rarely 
found that the world must take note 
of them. John Stuart Mill, writing in 
Eighteen Hundred Forty, assigned 
first place among English philoso- 
phers to Jeremy Bentham inci- 
dentally mentioning that Samuel 
Taylor Coleridge was Bentharn's only rival. 
In philosophy there is an apostolic succession. We 
build on the past, and all the centuries of turmoil and 
travail which have gone before have made this moment 
possible. There has never been any such thing as " the 
fall of man " ; for the march of the race has been a con- 
tinual climb a movement onward and upward. Were 
it not for Coleridge and Bentham, we could not have 
had Buckle, Wallace and Spencer, for the minds of 
men would not have been prepared to give them a 
hearing. ** Half the battle is in catching the Speaker's 
eye/* said Thomas Brackett Reed; and a John the 
Baptist to prepare the way is always necessary. With- 
out Coleridge to quietly ignore the question of prece- 
dent, and refuse to accept a thing without proof, and 
ask eternally and yet again, " How do you know? " 
Charles Darwin with his " Origin of Species " would 
have been laughed out of court. Or probably had Darwin 

289 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



been persistent we would have consigned him to the 
stocks, burned his book in the public square, and with 
the aid of logical thumbscrews made him recant. 
Even as it was, the gibes and guffaws of the press and 
pulpit came near drowning the modest, moderate voice 
of Darwin; and for a score of years, his reputation as a 
scientist seemed to be trembling in the balance. Yet 
today the man who would seriously attempt in an 
educated assembly to throw obloquy upon the doctrine 
of Evolution and the name of Charles Darwin would 
find himself speedily listed with Brudder Jasper of 
Richmond, Virginia. The Church now, everywhere, has 
its Drummonds, who build on Darwin and use his 
citations as proof; and Drummond merely expressed 
what the many believe no more. 

The man who has dared to think for himself and voiced 
his thought the emancipated man has been as one 
in a million. What usually passes for thought is only 
the repetition of things we have heard or been told. 
We memorize, repeat by rote and call it thought. 
With the Church and State in control of food and 
clothes, and with spears, clubs, knives and guns ready 
to suppress whatsoever seemed dangerous to their 
stability, it is a miracle that men have ever improved 
on anything for progress has been for centuries a 
perilous performance. To question a priest was blas- 
phemy. To reason with a judge was heinous. To think 
and decide for yourself was to invite torture and death* 
290 



SAMUEt T. COLERIDGE 



^f And all this was very natural, simply because the 
superior class who monopolized the good things of earth 
were obliged, in order to enslave and tax men, to make 
them believe that their power was derived from God, 
And thus was taught the " divine right of kings/' the 
duty of submission, the necessity of belief and the 
sinfulness of doubt. The source of all knowledge was 
declared to be a book, and the right of interpretation 
of this book was given to one class alone those who 
sided with and were a part of the Superior Class. 
The reason the race has progressed so slowly is because 
the strong, vigorous and independent have been sup- 
pressed, either by legal process, or exterminated through 
war, which reaps the best and lets the weak, the dis- 
eased and the cowards go. 

Those who doubted and questioned have been deprive^ 
of food and clothes, disgraced, mobbed, robbed, lashed 
naked at the cart's tail, burned at the stake, or sepa- 
rated from their families and transported beyond the 
sea to be devoured by wild beasts, die in jungles, or 
toil out their lives in slavery. 

But still there were always a few who would doubt 
and a few who would question; and in the early part 
of the Eighteenth Century in England the government 
was being put to severe straits to cope with the diffi- 
culty. Lying in the Thames were receiving-ships orr 
which were crowded men and women to be transported. 
When the ship was full, crowded to her utmost, she 

291 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



sailed away with her living cargo. From Sixteen Hun- 
dred Fifty to Seventeen Hundred Fifty, over forty 
thousand people were sent away for their country's 
good. The hangman worked overtime, all prisons were 
crowded, and the walls of Newgate bulged with men 
and women, old and young, who were believed to be 
dangerous to the stability and well-being of the superior 
class that is, those who had the right to tax others S3 
Finally, the enormity of bloodshed and woe involved 
caused a sort of concession on both sides to be agreed 
upon. Oppression continued will surely lead to a point 
where it cures itself, and the superior class in England, 
with a wise weather-eye, saw the reef on which they 
were in danger of striking. They heard the breakers, 
and began to grant concessions unwillingly of course 
concessions wrung from them. The censorship was 
abolished, reform bills introduced, the rights of free 
speech and a free press were partially recognized. The 
clergy, taking the cue, began to preach more love and 
less damnation; for the pew ever dictates to the pulpit 
what it shall preach. Thus general relaxation was in 
order to meet the competition of rival sects and inde- 
pendent preachers that were springing up; for although 
creeds never change, yet their interpretation does, and 
liberal sects do their work, not by growing strong, 
but by making all others more liberal. 
Thus the latter part of the Eighteenth Century wit- 
nessed a weakening of both sides through compromise. 
292 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



The schools and colleges were pedantic, complacent, 
smug and self-satisfied; by giving in a few points they 
had absorbed the radicals, and the political protesters 
had been bought off with snug places in the excise. Pre- 
tended knowledge passed for wisdom, dignity paraded 
as worth, affectation and hypocrisy patronized virtue. 
And Coleridge appears upon the scene, a conservative, 
with a beautiful innocence and an indifference to all 
pretended authority and asks, " How do you know? " 



293 



SAMUEL T. CCTLERIDGE 




1HE number of people who have written their 
names large in literature, who were the chil- 
dren of clergymen, is no mere coincidence. 

Tennyson, Addison, Goldsmith, Emerson, 

Lowell, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Coleridge you 
can add to the list to suit. Young people follow example, 
and the habit of the father in writing out his thoughts 
causes others of the family to try it, too. Then there is 
an atmosphere of books in a rectory, and leisure to 
think, and best of all the income is not so great but that 
the practise of economy of time and money is duly 
enforced by necessity. To be launched into a library 
and learn by absorption is a great blessing. 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Seventeen Hun- 
dred Seventy-two, the son of the Reverend John 
Coleridge, of Ottery Saint Mary, a small village of 
Devonshire, The rector was also a schoolmaster, just as 
all clergymen were before division of labor forced itself 
upon us. This worthy clergyman was twice married, his 
first wife bearing him three children, the second ten. 
Samuel was the last of the brood the thirteenth but 
his parents were not superstitious. 

The youngest in a big family, like the first, is apt to 
have a deal of love lavished upon him. The question of 
discipline has proved its own futility, and when a baby 
comes to parents approaching fifty, depend upon it, that 
child transforms the household into a monarchy, with 
himself as tyrant. This may be well and it may not. 
294 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



Little Samuel Taylor seemed to be aware of his power; 
he evolved a wondrous precocity and ruled the rectory 
with a rod of iron* When he was five he propounded 
questions that shook the orthodoxy of the worthy 
vicar to its very center. 

Yet, remarkable as was the intellect of Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge, the family would not have remained in 
obscurity without him. In fact, the very brightness of 
his fame caused the excellence of his brothers to be lost 
in the shadow. His brother James became the father of 
Henry Nelson Coleridge, who married his cousin Sara, 
the daughter of our poet. 

To anticipate a little, it is well enough here to say that 
the daughter of Coleridge was a woman of remarkable 
excellence, and if you wish to disprove the adage that 
genius does not transmit itself she is a good example 
to bring up even though there is a difference between 
fact and truth. James Coleridge was also the father of 
Mr. Justice Coleridge, himself the father of Lord Chief 
Justice Coleridge. 

And since iconoclasm is not out of place in an essay on 
Coleridge, it can also be stated that when Sara Cole- 
ridge married her cousin she did a wise thing. The 
marriage was a most happy one, and the children of 
these cousins have shown themselves to be beyond the 
average. And once, certainly not with his daughter in 
mind, Coleridge debated the question of consanguinity 
with Charles Lamb, and proved to his own satisfaction 

295 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



at least that the marriage of cousins was eminently 
sane, proper, just and right, and fraught with the best 
results for humanity. 

The only indictment that can be brought against the 
father of Coleridge is that he was a zealous Latin 
scholar, and proposed that the term ** ablative " be 
abolished as insufficient, and in its stead should be used 
that of " quale-quare-quiddative case/* He was a simple, 
amiable, excellent man who did his work the best he 
could, and was beloved by all the parish. As to the 
excellence of the established order of things he had no 
doubts government and religion were divine institu- 
tions and should be upheld by all honest men. 
As to the vicar's wife we know little, but enough of a 
glance is given into her character through letters to 
show that she had in her make-up a trace of noble dis- 
content. She was not entirely happy in her surround- 
ings, and the amiable ways of her husband were often 
an exasperation to her, rather than a pleasure even 
amiability can be overdone. He never saw more than 
a mile from home, but her eyes swept England from 
Cornwall to Scotland, and few men, even, saw so far 
as that a hundred years ago. The discontent of Samuel 
Taylor Coleridge was the heritage of mother to son. 
When Samuel was nine years of age the father passed 
away. The widow would have been in sore financial 
straits had it not been for the older children, and even as 
it was, strict economy and untiring industry were in 
296 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



order. Out of sympathy, Mr, Justice Duller, who had 
been a pupil of the Reverend John Coleridge, proposed 
to secure the youngest boy a scholarship in Christ's 
Hospital School, and so we find him entered there, July 
Eighteenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-two. This was 
a year memorable in the history of America; and the 
alertness of the charity boy's intellect is shown in that 
he was aware of the struggle between England and the 
Colonies. He discussed the situation with his school- 
fellows, and explained that the mother country had 
made a mistake in exacting too much. His sympathies 
were with the Colonies, but he thought submission on 
their part was in order when the stamp- tax was removed 
and that complete independence was absurd the 
Colonies needed some one to protect them. 
Such reasoning in a boy of ten years seems strange, 
especially in view of the fact that a noted professor of 
pedagogy has recently explained to us that no child 
under fourteen is capable of independent reasoning 35 
But it is quite certain that young Coleridge's opinions 
were not borrowed, for all the lad's acquaintances, 
who thought of the matter at all, considered the Ameri- 
cans simply " rebels " who merited death. 
Coleridge remained at Christ's Hospital for eight years, 
and before he left had easily taken his place as " Dep- 
uty Grecian/' Charles Lamb has given many delightful 
glimpses of that schoolboy life in the " Essays of Elia." 
<I Middleton, afterward Bishop of Calcutta, called the 

297 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



attention of Boyer, the master, to Coleridge by saying, 
"There is a boy who reads Vergil for amusement! " 
Boyer was a strict disciplinarian, but he was ever on 
the lookout for a lad who loved books the average 
youth getting out of all the study he could. 
The master began to encourage young Coleridge, and 
Coleridge responded. He wrote verses and essays, and 
was a prodigy in memorizing. According to Boyer's idea, 
and it was the prevailing idea everywhere then, and is 
yet in some sections, memorization was the one thing 
desirable. If the subject were Plato, and the master r had 
forgotten his book, he called on Coleridge to recite. And 
the tall, fair-haired boy, with the big dreamy eyes, 
would rise and give page after page, "verbatim et 
literatim/' 



298 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 




EFORE Coleridge went to Cambridge, when 
nineteen years old he had taken on that 
masterly quality in conversation that made 
his society sought, even to the last. Lamb has 
told us of the gentle voice, not loud nor deep, but full 
of mellow intonations, and bell-like in its purity. 
Such a voice, laden with fine feeling, carrying con- 
viction, only goes with a great soul. No doubt, though, 
the young man had grown into a bit of a dictator, 
and this habit of harangue he carried with him to 
College. To talk enabled him to think, and expression 
is necessary to growth. So the habit of argument with 
Coleridge seemed Nature's method of developing his 
powers of mental analysis. No more foolish saying 
was ever launched than, " Children should be seen 
and not heard/' From lisping babyhood Coleridge 
talked, and talked much. When he was twenty, at 
Cambridge, he drew the boys to his room, until it was 
crowded to suffocation, just by the magic of his voice, 
and the subtle quality of his thought. His questioning 
mind went right to the heart of things, and in his divi- 
sions and heads and subheads even the professors could 
not always follow him. Let us hope that he himself 
always knew what he was trying to explain. 
He discussed metaphysics, theology and politics, and 
very naturally got to treading on thin ice. 
In theology his reasoning led him into Unitarianism, 
then a very fearful thing; and in politics he dallied with 

299 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



Madame la Revolution. <S A polite note from the Master 
of the College, suggesting that he talk less and follow 
the curriculum a little more closely, led him straight 
to the Master, with whom he proposed to argue the 
case, or publicly debate it. This was terrible ! 
Stephen Crane at Syracuse University, a hundred years 
later, did just such a thing. He sought to argue a point 
in the classroom with Chancellor Symms. 
" Tut, tut! " said the Chancellor. " Have you forgotten 
what Saint Paul says on that very theme? " 
" Yes, I know/* replied the best catcher ever on the 
Syracuse Nine; " yes, I know what Saint Paul says, but 
I differ with Saint Paul/ 5 And Stevie, unconsciously, 
was standing on the well-lubricated chute that landed 
him, soon, well outside the campus. 
The authorities did not admire the brilliant young 
Coleridge, full of his reasons and prolix abstractions. 
He was attracting too much attention to himself, and 
gradually gathering about him a throng of admirers who 
might disturb the balance of things. He was there any- 
way only through sufferance, and an intimation was 
given him that if he were not willing to accept things 
as they existed, and as they Were taught, he had better 
go elsewhere. 

Piqued by his treatment and feeling he had been mis- 
understood and wronged, he suddenly disappeared $& 
Some months afterwards, an acquaintance found him in 
a company of dragoons, duly enlisted in His Majesty's 
300 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



service, under an assumed name. <I The authorities at 
Jesus College were notified, and knowing that such a 
youth was out of place serving as a soldier, and feeling 
further a small pang of regret possibly for having driven 
him away, a plan was set on foot to secure his discharge. 
This was soon brought about, and doubtless much to 
Coleridge's relief. Erelong he found himself back at 
Cambridge a little subdued, and a trifle more discreet, 
for his rough contact with the workaday world. 
A journey to Oxford, to visit an old friend, proved a 
pivotal point in his life. The fame of Coleridge as a 
poet had gone abroad, and the literary fledglings at 
Oxford sought to do the visitor honor in the proper 
way. Among others whom he met on this visit were 
Robert Southey and Robert Lovell, both poets of con- 
siderable local f ame. 

Lovell had been married but a few months before to a 
young woman by the name of Fricker. Southey was 
engaged to a sister of the bride, and there was still a 
third sister fancy-free. The three poets became fast 
friends. They were all radicals, full of ambition to 
make a name for themselves, and all intent on elevating 
society out of the ruts into which it had fallen. All had 
suffered contumely on account of advanced ideas; and 
all were out of conceit with the existing order. 
They discussed the matter at length, and decided to 
set the world an example, by founding an ideal colony 
and showing how to make the most of life. 

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Coleridge had long been interested in America, and 
from an acquaintanceship with sundry soldiers who 
had helped fight the battles of George the Third in 
the New World, he had gathered a rather romantic 
idea of the country. The stories of returned sailors 
and soldiers, told to civilians, are seldom exactly 
authentic. And Coleridge the poet, bubbling with the 
effervescence of youth, argued that a home on the 
banks of the Susquehanna, with love and books and 
comradeship, was the ideal condition. 
The matter was broached to the three sisters Fricker, 
and they of course responded what woman worthy 
of the name of woman would not? And so the arrange- 
ments were fast being made, and as a necessary feature 
the three poets were duly and legally married to the 
three sisters, and Eden was to be peopled with the best. 
<IA date was arranged for sailing, but some trifling 
piatter of finance delayed the exodus in fact, certain 
expected loans were not forthcoming. Coleridge put in 
the time lecturing and preaching from Unitarian pulpits. 
He also tried his hand as editor, but the publication 
pchenie failed to bring the shekels that were to buy 
emancipation* The innate contrariness of things seemed 
to be blocking all his plans. 

Meanwhile we find Lovell drifting off into commer- 
cialism. That is to say, Barabbas-like, he had turned 
publisher. Gadzooks! What would you have a man with 
a wife and baby do ? Live on moonshine well, well, well I 
302 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



<I Death claimed poor Lovell before he could make a 
success either of commerce or of art. 
Coleridge moved up to the Lake District, and at Kes- 
wick, near where the water comes down at Lodore 
or did before the stream dried up he rented rooms of 
a kind friend by the name of Johnson, who owned Greta 
Hall. Southey was writing articles for London papers. 
He received a guinea a column, and when he wrote a 
poem, as he did every little while, he sent it to a pub- 
lisher who returned him a little good cash. 
Southey 's wife went up to Keswick on a visit to see 
her sister, Mrs. Coleridge. Southey followed up to Kes- 
wick, and rather liked the situation. The Southeys and 
the Coleridges all lived together as one happy family $ 
Southey was writing poetry and getting paid for it; 
and beside this had a small income. Coleridge allowed 
Southey to buy the supplies, and when he went away on 
tramp lecturing tours he felt perfectly saf e in leaving his 
family with Southey. 

While up that way he met a young man, a native, by 
the name of Wordsworth William Wordsworth and a 
poet, too 33 33 

Wordsworth had a sister named Dorothy, and this 
brother and sister lived together in a little whitewashed 
stone cottage, built up against the hillside at Grasmere, 
a village thirteen miles from Keswick. Coleridge liked 
these people first-rate and they liked him. He used to go 
down to visit them, and they would all sit up late 

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SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



listening to the splendid talk of the handsome Coleridge. 
William said he was the only great man he had ever 
met, and Dorothy agreed in the proposition. 
Coleridge was discouraged: the world did not care for 
his work, and the men in power had set their faces 
against him or he thought they had, which is the 
same thing. There was a conspiracy, he thought, to 
keep him down; and Wordsworth should have advised 
him to join it, but did not. 

Dorothy Wordsworth was a most extraordinary woman 
she was gentle, kind, low-voiced, sympathetic. She 
was not handsome, but she had the intellect that 
entitled her to a membership in the Brotherhood of Fine 
Minds. She knew the splendid excellence of Coleridge, 
and could follow him in his most abstract dissertations; 
and if his logic faltered she could lead him back to the 
trail 3335 

Dorothy Wordsworth admired and pitied Coleridge; 
and from pity to love is but a step. 
But Coleridge was not capable of a passionate love 
the substance of his being was all absorbed in abstract 
thought. And yet Dorothy Wordsworth attracted him 
as no other woman ever did. He forgot his wife, Sara, 
up there at Southey's. Sara was a better-looking woman 
than Dorothy, but she lacked intellect. Her life was all 
bound up in housekeeping and going to church, and 
the petty little round of daily happenings to neighbors 
and friends. The world of thought and dreams to her 
304 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



was nothing. She loved her husband, but his foolish 
foibles vexed her, and his lack of application prompted 
her to chide him. And at such times he would turn to 
his friends at Dove Cottage for sympathy and rest. 
flf They used to tramp the hills, and discuss philosophy, 
and recite their poems the livelong day. It was on one 
such jaunt that out of the ghost of shoreless seas they 
sighted the "Ancient Mariner." Then Coleridge went 
ahead, completed the plot and gave the poem to the 
world. And once he said, half -boastfully, to Dorothy: 
" This old seafaring poem is valuable in that it is a 
tale no one will understand, but which will excite uni- 
versal interest. Only the perfectly sane and sensible 
is dull" 33 33 

Wordsworth had read somewhat of the works of the 
German philosophers, and as he and his sister had a 
little money saved up they decided to go over and 
attend the lectures at the University of Gottingen for 
awhile. Coleridge had nothing in the way to prevent his 
going, too, save that he did n't have the money. How- 
ever, he wanted to go and so decided to lay the case 
before the sons of Josiah Wedgwood. These young men 
had been schoolfellows of Coleridge at Cambridge, and 
once he had gone home with them artd so had met their 
father 33 33 

And right here comes a very strong temptation to say 
not another word about Coleridge, but merge this essay 
off into a sketch of that most excellent, strong and 

305 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



noble man, Josiah Wedgwood. Here is a man who 
left his impress indelibly on the times, and whose 
influence outweighed that of a dozen prime ministers. 
The potter is gone, but he lives in his art, so we still 
have the best and purest and noblest of the soul of 
Josiah Wedgwood. 

This man had assisted Coleridge at Cambridge, and it 
was to his sons Coleridge looked for help to realize his 
Susquehanna dream of Utopia. But the Wedgwoods 
knew the hazy, moonshine quality of the project and 
made excuses. 

Coleridge now appealed to them for assistance in a 
saner project, and they supplied him the money to go 
to Gottingen. 

His stay of fourteen months in Germany gave him a 
firm hold on the language, and a goodly glimpse into 
the philosophy of Kant, Leibnitz and Schleiermacher. 
When Coleridge returned to England, he went at once 
to see his interesting f amily. Rumor has it that Mrs. 
Coleridge, in addition to caring for her own little brood 
and assisting in the Southey household, had also been 
working in the Keswick lead-pencil factory for a weekly 
wage of twelve shillings* The philosopher did not 
much like this lowering of dignity, and said so mildly. 
This led to the truthful explanation that he had hardly 
done his duty by his family in allowing them to shift 
for themselves or be cared for by kinsmen; and there- 
fore advice from him was out of place. In short, Southey 
306 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



intimated that while he would care for his sisters-in-law 
he drew the line at brothers-in-law. And Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge drifted up to London (being down) to see if 
something would not turn up. 

His first task there was to translate " Werther," but 
the work did not seem to go. Grub Street took up the 
brilliant talker, and for a time he gave parlor lectures 
and filled the air of thought and speculation with his 
brilliant pyrotechnics. The force of his mind was 
everywhere acknowledged, but someway he did not 
seem to get on. Men who have managed the finances 
of a nation often have not been able successfully to 
control their own; and more than once we have had 
the spectacle of one who could do the thinking for a 
world failing in the humdrum duties of a citizen and 
neighbor. Coleridge tried various things, among others 
a secretaryship that took him to Malta, but the lack of 
system in his habits and his absent-mindedness made 
him the prey and butt of " practical " men. 



307 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 




HEN Carlyle said that no more dreary record 
than the lives of authors existed, save the 
Newgate Calendar, he spoke truth. 
That the lives of most authors is a series of 
misunderstandings, blunders, heart-burnings, tragedies, 
is a fact. The author is a man who diverts and amuses us 
by doing the things we would do if we had time; and 
if we like him it is only because he expresses the things 
we already know. His is a hard task, requiring intense 
concentration a concentration that can only be con- 
tinued for a short time without the absolute burning 
out of existence. 

To think one's best and write out ideas is an abnormal 
operation. The most artistic work is always done in a 
sort of fever or ecstacy, which in its very nature is 
transient. To hunt and fish and dream and to work with 
one's hands are all very natural; but to sit down and 
think and then express your thoughts by the artificial 
scheme of writing on paper is a dangerous operation. 
If carried to excess it shall be paid for by your life 53 
Coleridge had turned night into day in his hot zeal to 
follow the winding, dancing mystery of existence to its 
inmost recess. At times he had forgotten to eat or sleep; 
and then to reinforce despairing nature he had resorted 
to stimulants. 

Digestion had become impaired, circulation faulty 
through lack of exercise, so sleeplessness followed stimu- 
lation. Then to quiet pain came the use of the drug that 
308 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



brings oblivion. And lo! thought burned up brighter 

than ever and all the dreams of youth and twenty came 

trooping back. 

Coleridge had made a discovery. He thought he was 

getting the start of God Almighty; but he was n't, for 

men have tried that before, and are trying it today, and 

many know not yet that we are strong only as we cling 

close to the skirts of Mother Nature and follow lovingly 

in her ways* 

From his twenty-ninth year we find Coleridge a wreck 

in mind and body; shuffling, sick, disheartened, erratic, 

uncertain, yet occasionally brilliant. He tramped the 

streets, feared and shunned. His money was gone, his 

power of concentration had vanished. In search of 

bread he met an old-time friend, Doctor Gilknan. 

" Gillman," said Coleridge, *' I am sick and helpless 

look at me! " 

" Why don't you come to my house and live with me? " 

asked the kind friend. 

*' Gillman," said the poor man, " Gillman, I am on 

my way there! " 

So Gillman brought him to his house up at Highgate 

and took care of him as a child. And there he remained, 

the pride and pet of a group of brave, thinking men and 

women 33 53 

He lived on for thirty years, under the kindly, skilful 

care of his friend, but all the real work of his life was 

done before he was thirty. Occasionally the old fire 

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SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



would flash forth, and the wit and insight of his youth 
would shine out. Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron, and 
others strong and great sought him out to hold con- 
verse with him* And so he existed, a sort of oracle, 
amiable, kind and generous wreck of a man that was 
protected and defended by loving friends; while up 
at Keswick, Southey cared for his wife and educated 
his children as though they were his own. 
" I am dying," said Coleridge toGillman in July, Eight- 
een Hundred Thirty-four; " dying, but I should have 
died, like Keats, in youth and not have made myself a 
burden to you do you forgive me? " We can guess the 
answer 53 53 

The dust of Coleridge rests in Highgate Cemetery, just 
a step from where he lived all those years. He, himself, 
selected the place and wrote his epitaph. The simple 
monument that marks the spot was paid for by kind 
friends who remembered him and loved him and who 
pardoned him for all that he was not, in memory of what 
he once had been. 



310 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 




O a young man from the country, who makes 
his way up, no greater shock ever comes than 
the discovery that rich people are, for the 
most part, woefully ignorant. He has always 
imagined that material splendor and spiritual gifts go 
hand in hand; and now if he is wise he discovers that 
millionaires are too busy making money, and too 
anxious about what they have made, and their families 
are too intent on spending it, ever to acquire a calm, 
judicial mental attitude. 

The rich are not the leisure class, and they need edu- 
cation no less than the poor. Lord, enlighten thou our 
enemies, should be the prayer of every man who works 
for progress : give clearness to their mental perceptions, 
awaken in them the receptive spirit, soften their callous 
hearts, and arouse their powers of reason. 
Danger lies in their folly* not in their wisdom; their 
weakness is to be feared, not their strength. 
That the wealthy and influential class should fear 
change, and cling stubbornly to conservatism, is cer- 
tainly to be expected S3 To convince this class that 
spiritual and temporal good can be improved upon by a 
more liberal policy has been a task a thousand times 
greater than the exciting of the poor to riot. It is easy 
to fire the discontented, but to arouse the rich and carry 
truth home to the blindly prejudiced is a different 
matter. Too often the reformer has been one who caused 
the rich to band themselves against the poor. 

311 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a Tory who defended the 
existing order on the plea of its usefulness 33 He 
approached the vital issue from the inside, taught the 
conservative to think, and thus opened the eyes of the 
aristocrats without exciting their fears or unduly 
arousing their wrath. 

Self-preservation prompts men to move in the line of 
least resistance. And that any man should ever have 
put his safety in peril by questioning the authority *>f 
those able and ready to confiscate his property and take 
away his life is very strange. Such a person must 
belong to one of two types. He must be either a revo- 
lutionist one who would supplant existing authority 
with his own, thus knowingly and willingly hazarding 
all or he is an innocent, indiscreet individual, abso- 
lutely devoid of all interest in the main chance. 
Coleridge belonged to the last-mentioned type. Genius 
needs a keeper. Here was a man so absorbed in abstract 
thought, so intent on attaining high and holy truth, that 
he neglected his friends, neglected his family, neglected 
himself until his body refused to obey the helm. It is 
easy to find fault with such a man, but to refuse to grant 
an admiring recognition of his worth, on account of 
what he was not, is an error, pardonable only to the 
rude, crude and vulgar. The cultivated mind sees the 
good and fixes attention on that. 

Coleridge formulated no system, solved no complex 
problems, made no brilliant discoveries. But his habit 
312 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



of analysis enriched the world beyond power to com- 
pute. He taught men to think and separate truth from 
error. He was not popular, for he did not adapt himself 
to the many. His business was to teach teachers he 
conducted a Normal School, and taught teachers how 
to teach. Coleridge went to the very bottom of a sub- 
ject, and his subtle mind refused to take anything for 
granted. He approached every proposition with an 
unprejudiced mind. In his "Aids to Reflection/' he says, 
*' He who begins by loving Christianity better than 
truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church 
better than Christianity, and then end in loving himself 
better than all." 

The average man believes a thing first, and then 
searches for proof to bolster his opinion. Every observer 
must have noticed the tenuous, cobweb quality of 
reasons that are deemed sufficient to the person who 
thinks he knows, or whose interests lie in a certain 
direction. The limitations of men seem to make it 
necessary that pure truth should come to us through 
men who are stripped for eternity. Kant, the villager 
who never traveled more than a day's walk from his 
birthplace, and Coleridge, the homeless and houseless 
aristocrat, with no selfish interests in the material 
world, view things without prejudice. 
The method of Coleridge, from his youth, was to divide 
the whole into parts. Then he begins to eliminate, and 
divides down, rejecting all things that are not the thing. 

313 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



until Ke finds the thing. He begins all inquiries by sup- 
posing that nothing is known on the subject. He will 
not grant you that murder and robbery are bad you 
must show why they are bad, and if you can not explain, 
he will take the subject up and divide it into heads for 
you S& 33 

First, the effect on the sufferer. Second, the evil to the 
doer. Third, the danger of a bad example. Fourth, the 
injury to society through the feeling of insecurity. Fifth, 
the pain given to the families of both doer and sufferer. 
Next he will look for excuses for the crime and give all 
the credit he can; and then finally strike a balance and 
give a conclusion. 

One of Coleridge's best points was in calling attention 
to what constitutes proof; he saw all fallacies and dis- 
covered at a glance illusions in logic that had long 
been palmed off on the world as truth. He saw the gulf 
that lies between coincidence and sequence, and 
hastened the day when the old-time pedant with his 
mighty tomes and tiresome sermons about nothing 
should be no more. And so today, in the Year of Grace 
Nineteen Hundred, the man who writes must have 
something to say, and he who speaks must have a mes- 
sage. " Coleridge/' says Principal Shairp, " was the 
originator and creator of the higher criticism." The race 
has gained ground, made head upon the whole; and 
thanks to the thinkers gone, there are thinkers now in 
every community who weigh, sift, try and decide. No 
314 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



statement made by an interested party can go unchal- 
lenged. " How do you know? " and " Why? " we ask. 
<IThat is good which serves man is the important 
item, this earth is the place, and the time is now. So all 
good men and women and all churches are endeavoring 
to make earth heaven; and all agree that to live, now 
and here, the best you can, is the fittest preparation 
for a life to come. 

We no longer accept the doctrine that our natures are 
rooted in infamy, and that the desires of the flesh are 
cunning traps set by Satan, with God's permission, to 
undo us. We believe that no one can harm us but our- 
selves, that sin is misdirected energy, that there is no 
devil but fear, and that the universe is planned for 
good. On every side we find beauty and excellence held 
in the balance of things. We know that work is needful, 
that winter is as necessary as summer, that night is as 
useful as day, that death is a manifestation of life, and 
just as good. We believe in the Now and Here. We 
believe in a power that is in ourselves that makes for 
righteousness 33 33 

These things have not been taught us by a superior 
class who have governed us for a consideration, and to 
whom we have paid taxes and tithes we have simply 
thought things out for ourselves, and in spite of them, 
We have listened to Coleridge, and others, who said: 
" You should use your reason and separate the good 
from the bad, the false from the true, the useless from 

315 



SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE 



the useful. Be yourself and think for yourself; and 
while your conclusions may not be infallible they will 
be nearer right than the opinions forced upon you by 
those who have a personal interest in keeping you in 
ignorance. You grow through the exercise of your 
faculties, and if you do not reason now you never will 
advance. We are all sons of God, and it doth not yet 
appear what we shall be* Claim your heritage! " 



316 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The stimulus subsided. The paroxysms ended in pros- 
tration. Some took refuge in melancholy, and their 
eminent chief alternated between a menace and a sigh. 
As I sat opposite the Treasury bench, the Ministers 
reminded me of those marine landscapes not unusual on 
the coasts of South America. You behold a range of 
exhausted volcanoes; not a flame flickers on a single 
pallid crest; but the situation is still dangerous: there 
are occasional earthquakes, and ever and anon the dark 
rumblings of the sea. 

Speech at Manchester 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




INCE Disraeli was born a Jew, he 
was received into the Jewish Church 
with Jewish rites. But Judaism, 
standing in the way of his ambition, 
and his parents* ambition for him, 
the religion of his fathers was re- 
nounced and he became, in name, a 
Christian. Yet to the last his heart 
was with his people, and the glory of his race was his 
secret pride. 

The fine irony of affiliating with a people who worship 
a Jew as their Savior, but who have legislated against, 
and despised the Jew this attracted Disraeli. With 
them he bowed the knee in an adoration they did not 
feel, and while his lips said the litany, his heart repeated 
Ben Ezra's prayer. In temperament he belonged with 
the double-dealing East. He intuitively knew the law of 
jiu jitsu, best exemplified by the Japanese, and won 
often by yielding* He was bold, but not too bold. 
Israel Zangwill, shrewdest, keenest and kindliest of 
Jews with the tragedy of his race pictured on his 
furrowed face, a face like an ancient weather-worn 
statue on whose countenance grief has petrified has 
summed up the character of Disraeli as no other man 
ever has or can. I will not rob the reader by quoting 
from "The Primrose Sphinx/* that gem of letters 

319 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



must ever stand together without subtraction of a word. 
It belongs to the realm of the lapidary, and its facets 
can not be transferred. Yet when Mr. Zangwill refers 
to the Mephistophelian curl of Lord Beaconsfield's 
lip, the word is used advisedly. No character in history 
so stands for the legendary Mephisto as does this man. 
The Satan of the Book of Job, jaunty, daring, joking 
with his Maker, is the Mephisto of Goethe and all the 
other playwriters who have used the character. 
Mephisto is so much above the ordinary man in sense of 
humor which is merely the right estimate of values 
so sweeping in intellect, that Milton pictures him as a 
dispossessed god, the only rival of Deity. 
Disraeli, not satisfied with playing the part of Mephisto 
and tempting men to their ruin, but thirsting for a 
wider experience, turns Faustus himself and sells his 
soul for a price. He knows that everything in life is 
sold nothing is given gratis we pay for knowledge 
with tears; for love with pain; for life with death. He 
haggles and barters with Fate, and pays the penalty 
because he must. 

He alternately affronts and cajoles his enemies; takes 
all that the world has to give; knows every pleasure; 
wins every prize; makes love to the daughters of men 
(without loving them) ; and winning the one he selects, 
secretly thanks Jehovah, God of his fathers, that he 
leaves no offspring because the woman fit for his mate 
and equal to mothering his children does not exist* 
320 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



The sublimity of his egotism stands unrivaled. It is 
so great that it is admirable. We lift our hats to this 
man. Napoleon gained the field without prejudice; but 
this man enters the list with hate and prejudice arrayed 
against him. He plays the pawns of chance with lit- 
erature, religion, politics, and moves the queen so as 
to checkmate all adversaries. He flouts love, but to 
show the world that he yet knows the ideal, he occa- 
sionally pictures truth and trusting affection in his 
speeches and books. This entire game of life is to him 
only a diversion 33 They may jeer him down in the 
House of Commons, but his patience is unruffled. He 
says, '* Very well, I will wait/* Now and again he smiles 
that wondrous, contagious smile, showing his white 
teeth and the depth of his dark, burning eyes 53 He 
knows his power. He revels in the wit he never ex- 
presses; he glories in this bright blade of the intellect 
that is never fully unsheathed. 

They think he is interested in English politics pish! 
Only world problems really interest him, and those 
that lie behind mean as much to him as those that are 
to come. He is one with eternity, and the vanquished 
glory of Rome, the marble beauty of Athens, the 
Assyrian Sphinx, the flight from Egypt under the 
leadership of one who had killed his man yet had 
talked with God face to face these and the dim 
uncertainty of the unseen, are the things that interest 
him. He is a dreamer of the Ghetto. 

321 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




1HERE was no taint of mixed blood in the veins 
of Benjamin Disraeli. He traced his ancestry 
in a record that looks like a chapter from the 
Book of Numbers. His forebears had known 
every persecution, every contumely, slight and disgrace. 
Driven from Spain by the Inquisition, barely escaping 
with life, when Jewish blood actually fertilized the fields 
about Granada, his direct ancestor became one of the 
builders of Venice. The Jews practically controlled the 
trade of the world in the sun-kissed days of prosperity, 
when Venice produced the books and the art of Christen- 
dom 53 53 

To trace an ancestry back to those who enthroned 
Venice on her hundred isles was surely something of 
which to be proud; and into the blood of Benjamin 
Disraeli went a dash of the gleam and glory and glamour 
of Venice the Venice of the Doges. 
This man's grandfather came to England with a goodly 
fortune, which he managed to increase as the years 
went by. He had one son, Isaac, who nearly broke his 
parents* heart in that he not only showed no aptitude 
for business, but actually wrote poems wherein com- 
merce was held up to ridicule. The tendency of the 
artistic nature to speak with disdain of the " mere 
money-grabber," and the habit of the c * money-grab- 
ber " to refer patronizingly to the helpless, theoretical 
and dreamy artist, is well known. Isaac Disraeli was 
an artist in feeling; he must have been a reincarnation 
322 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



of one of those bookmakers of Venice who touched 
Hands: with Titian, and Giorgione and helped to invest 
wisely the moneys the merchants of the Rialto made. 
Never a Gratiano had a greater contempt for a mer- 
chant than he. Just to get him out of the way, his 
patents packed Isaac off to Europe, where he acquired 
several languages, and some other things, with that 
ease which the Jew always manifests. He dallied in art, 
pecked at books, and made the acquaintance of many 
literary men. 

When his father died and left him a goodly fortune, he 
had the sense to turn the entire management of the 
estate over to his wife, a woman with a thorough busi- 
ness instinct, while he busied himself with his books. 
<f Benjamin was the second child of these parents. 
He had a sister older than himself, and two brothers 
younger. Those philosophers who claim that spirits 
have their own individuality in the unseen world, and 
the accident of birth really does not constitute a kin- 
ship between brothers and sisters, will find here some- 
thing that looks like proof. Benjamin Disraeli bore no 
resemblance in mental characteristics to his sister or 
brothers; he did, however, possess the mental virtues 
of both father and mother, multiplied by ten. 
When twelve years of age he exhibited that intense 
disposition for mastery which was through life his 
distinguishing trait. The Jew does not outrank the 
Gentile in strength, but the average Jew surely does 

323 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



have the faculty of concentration which the average 
Gentile does not possess. And that is what constitutes 
strength the ability to focus the mind on one thing 
and compass it: to concentrate is power. 
When Ben was sent to the Unitarian school at Wal- 
thamstow, aged fifteen, it was his first taste of school 
life. Up to this time his father had been his tutor. Now 
he found himself cast into that den of wild animals 
an English school for boys. His Jewish name and 
features and his dandy ways and attire made him the 
instant butt of the playground. Ben very patiently 
surveyed his tormentors, waited to pick his man, and 
then challenged the biggest boy in the school to single 
combat. The exasperating way in which he coolly went 
about the business set his adversary's teeth chattering 
before the call of " time/' The result of the fight was 
that, even if " Dizzy " was not thoroughly respected 
from that day forth, no one ever called, " Old clo' ! Old 
clo' ! " within his hearing. Of course it was not gen- 
erally advertised that the lad had been taking boxing 
lessons from " Coster Joe " for three years, with the 
villainies of a boys* school in view. In fact, boxing was 
this young man's diversion, and the Coster on several 
occasions expressed great regret that writing and pol- 
itics had robbed the ring of one who showed promise 
of being the cleverest welter-weight of his time. 
The main facts in both "Vivian Gray" and "Contarini 
Fleming " are autobiographical* Like Byron, upon 
324 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

whom Disraeli fed, the author never got far away from 
himself 53 53 

It was not long before the intense personality of young 
Disraeli made itself felt throughout the Walthamstow 
school. The young man smiled at the pedant's idolatry 
of facts, and seized the vital point in every lesson. He 
felt himself the superior of every one in the establish- 
ment, master included and he was. 
Before a year he split the school into two factions 
those who favored Ben Disraeli, and those who were 
opposed to him. The master cast his vote with the 
latter class, and the result was that Ben withdrew, 
thus saving the authorities the trouble of expelling 
him. His leave-taking was made melodramatic with a 
speech to the boys, wherein impertinent allusions were 
made concerning all schoolmasters, and the master of 
Walthamstow in particular. 

And thus ended the school life of Benjamin Disraeli, 
the year at Walthamstow being his first and last 
experience 53 53 

However, Ben was not indifferent to study; he felt 
sure that there was a great career before him, and he 
knew that knowledge was necessary to success. With 
his father's help he laid out a course of work that kept 
him at his tasks ten hours a day. His father was a 
literary man of acknowledged worth, and mingled in 
the best artistic society of London. Into this society 
Beniamin was introduced, meeting all his father's 

325 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



acquaintances on an absolute equality. The young man 
at eighteen was totally unabashed in any company; he 
gave his opinion unasked, criticized his elders, flashed 
his wit upon the guests and was looked upon with 
fear, amusement or admiration, as the case might be S3 
Froude says of him, " The stripling was the same 
person as the statesman at seventy, with this difference 
only, that the affectation which was natural in the boy 
was itself affected in the matured politician, whom it 
served well for a mask, or as a suit of impenetrable 
armor/' 53 53 



326 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




]HAT literature is the child of parents is true. 
That is to say, it takes two to produce a book. 
Of course there are imitation books, sort o* 
wax figures that look like books, made through 
habit by those that have been many years upon the 
turf, and who work automatically; but every real, live, 
throbbing, pulsing book was written by a man with a 
woman at his elbow, or vice versa. 
When twenty-one years of age Benjamin Disraeli 
produced " Vivian Gray/' The woman in the case was 
Mrs. Austen, wife of a prosperous London solicitor. 
This lady was handsome, a brilliant talker, a fine 
musician and an amateur artist of no mean ability. She 
was much older than Disraeli she must have been in 
order to comprehend that the young man's frivolity 
was pretense, and his foppery affectation. A girl of his 
own age, whose heart-depths had not been sounded 
by experience, would have fallen in love with the fop- 
pery (or else despised it which is often the same 
thing); but Mrs. Austen, mature in years, with a 
decade of London ** seasons " behind her, having met 
every possible kind of man Europe had to offer, dis~ 
covered that the world did not know Ben Disraeli at 
all. She saw that the youth did not reveal his true self, 
and that instead of courting society for its awn sake 
he had a supreme contempt for it. She intuitively knew 
that he was seething in discontent, and with prophetic 
vision she knew that his restless power and his ambition 

327 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



would yet make him a marked figure in the world of 
letters or politics, or both. 

For love as a passion, or supreme sentiment, ruling 
one's life, Disraeli had no sympathy. He shunned love 
for fear it might bind him hand and foot. Love not 
only is blind, but love blinds its votary, and Disraeli, 
knowing this, fled for freedom when the trail grew 
Warm. A man madly in love is led, subdued imagine 
Mephisto captured, crying it out on his knees with his 
head in a woman's lap! 

But Mrs. Austen was happily married, the mother of 
a family, and occupied a position high in London 
Society 33 Marriage with her was out of the question, 
and scandal and indiscretion equally so Ben Disraeli 
felt safe with Mrs. Austen. With her he put off his 
domino and grew simple and confidential. 
And so the lady, doubtless a bit flattered for she was 
a woman set herself to push en the hazard of new 
fortunes. She encouraged him to write his novel of 
" Vivian Gray " discussed every phase of it, read 
chapter after chapter as they were produced, and by 
her gentle encouragement and warm sympathy fired 
the mind of the young man to the point of production. 
<I The book is absurd in plot, and like most first books, 
flashy and overdrawn. And yet there is a deal of power 
in it, and the thinly veiled characters were speedily 
pointed out as living personages. Literary London 
went agog, and Mrs. Austen fanned the flame by 
328 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

Inviting " the set " to her drawing-room to kear the 
great author read from his amusing work. The best 
feature of the book, and probably the saving feature, is 
that the central figure in the plot is Disraeli, himself, and 
upon his own head the author plays his shafts of wit 
and ridicule. The impertinence and impudence which 
he himself manifested were parodied, caricatured and 
played upon, to the great delight of the uninitiated 
rabble, who gave themselves much credit for having 
made a discovery. 

The man who scorns, scoffs, gibes and jeers other men, 
and at the same time is willing to drop his guard and 
laugh at himself, is not a bad man. Very, very seldom 
is found a man under thirty who does not take himself 
and all his wit seriously. But Disraeli, the lawyer's 
clerk, at twenty was wise and subtle beyond all men in 
London Town. Mrs. Austen must have been wise, too, 
for had she been like most other good women she would 
have wanted her protege admired, and have rebelled in 
tears at the thought of placing him in a position where 
society would serve him up for tittle-tattle. Small men 
can be laughed down, but great ones, never. 
A little American testimony as to the appearance of 
Disraeli in his manhood may not here be amiss. Says 
N. P. Willis: " He was sitting in a window looking on 
Hyde Park, the last rays of sunlight reflected from the 
gorgeous gold flowers of a splendidly embroidered waist- 
coat. Patent-leather pumps, a white stick with a black 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

cord and tassel, and a quantity of chains about his 
neck and pockets, served to make him a conspicuous 
object. He has one of the most remarkable faces I ever 
saw. He is lividly pale, and but for the energy of his 
action and strength of his lungs would seem to be a 
victim of consumption. His eye is black as Erebus, and 
has the most mocking, lying-in-wait sort of expression 
conceivable. His mouth is alive with a kind of working 
and impatient nervousness, and when he has burst 
forth, as he does constantly, with a particularly success- 
ful cataract of expression, it assumes a curl of trium- 
phant scorn that would be worthy of Mephistopheles. 
His hair is as extraordinary as his taste in waistcoats. 
A thick, heavy mass of jet-black ringlets falls on his left 
cheek almost to his collarless stock, which on the right 
temple is parted and put away with the smooth care- 
fulness of a girL The conversation turned on Beckford. 
I might as well attempt to gather up the foam of the 
sea as to convey an idea of the extraordinary language 
in which he clothed his description. He talked like a 
racehorse approaching the winning-post, every muscle 
in action/* 



330 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




ISRAELI, like Byron, awoke one morning and 
found himself famous. And like Byron, he was 
yet a stripling. Pitt was Prime Minister at 
twenty-five. Genius has its example, and 
Disraeli worshiped alternately at the shrines of Byron 
and Pitt. The daring intellect and haughty indifference 
of Byron, and the compelling power of Pitt he saw no 
reason why he should not unite these qualities within 
himself. He had been grubbing in a lawyer's office, and 
had revealed decided ability in a business way, but 
novel-writing in office-hours was not appreciated by his 
employer Ben was told so, and this gave him an oppor- 
tunity to resign. He had set his heart on a political 
career he thirsted for power and no doubt Mrs. 
Austen encouraged him in this. To push a man to the 
front, and thus win a vicarious triumph, has been a 
source of great joy to more than one ambitious woman. 
To get on in politics, Disraeli must enter the House of 
Commons. Even now, with the help of the Austens, and 
his father's purse, a pocket borough might be secured, 
but it was not enough he must enter with eclat. 
A year of travel was advised fame grows best where 
the man is not too much in evidence; there is virtue in 
obscurity. Disraeli decided to go down through Europe, 
traveling over the same route that Byron had taken, 
write another book that would secure him some more 
necessary notoriety, and then stand for a seat in the 
House of Commons. Once within the sacred pale, he 

331 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



believed his knowledge of business, his ability to 
express himself as a writer or speaker, and the magic 
of his presence would make the rest easy. 
There was no dumb luck in the matter neither father 
nor son believed in chance; they fixed their faith on 
cause and effect. 

And so Ben went abroad before London society grew 
aweary of him. 

His stay was purposely prolonged; and news of his 
progress from time to time filled the public prints. He 
carried letters of introduction to every one and moved 
in a sort of sublime pageant as he traveled. 
When he returned, wearing the costume of the East, 
he was greeted by society as a prince. His novel, " Con- 
tarini Fleming/' was published with great acclaim, and 
interest in "Vivian Gray" was revived by a special 
edition deluxe. " Contarini " was compared to " Childe 
Harold," and pictures of Disraeli, with hair curling to 
his shoulders, were displayed in shop-windows by the 
side of pictures of Byron. 

Disraeli was the lion of the drawing-rooms. When it 
was known he was to be in a certain place crowds 
gathered to get a glimpse of his handsome face, and to 
listen to his wit. 

He introduced several of his Eastern accomplishments, 
one of which was the hookah. " Beware of tobacco, 
my boy," said an old colonel to him one day; *' women 
do not like it; it has ruined more charming liaisons 
332 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



than anything else I know! " <I " Then you must con- 
sider smoking a highly moral accomplishment," was the 
reply. The colonel had wrongly guessed the object of 
Disraeli's ambition. 

He became acquainted with Tom Moore, Count 
d'Orsay, and Lady Morgan; Lady Blessington welcomed 
him at Kensington; Bulwer-Lytton introduced him to 
Mrs. Wyndham Lewis wife of the member from 
Maidstone aged forty; and he was, say, twenty-five. 
They tried conclusions in repartee, sparred for points, 
and amused the company by hot arguments and wordy 
pyrotechnics. When they found themselves alone in the 
conservatory, after a little stroll, they shook hands, and 
the gentleman said, " What fools these mortals be! " 
*' True/' replied the lady; " true, and yqu and I are 
mortals." And so Disraeli found another woman who 
correctly gauged him. They liked each other first-rate. 
At last a vacant borough was found and arrangements 
made for the young man to stand as a candidate for the 
House of Commons. The campaign was entered upon 
with great vigor. Disraeli quite outdid himself in speech- 
making and waistcoats. The election took place and 
he was defeated. 



333 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




ITH Disraeli defeat meant merely a transient 
episode, not a conclusion. On the second 
venture he was elected, and one sunshiny day 
found himself duly sworn in as a member of 
the House of Commons, with a seat just back of Peel's. 
fl There is a tradition in Parliament, adopted also in 
the United States Senate, that silence is quite becoming 
to a member during his first session. Disraeli had a 
motto to the effect that it is better to be impudent than 
servile, and in order to teach Parliament that in the 
presence of personality all rules are waived, he very 
shortly indulged him in an exceeding spread-eagle 
speech. But he had not spoken five minutes before the 
members began to laugh. Catcalls, hisses and mad 
tumult reigned. The young man in the flaming waistcoat 
let loose all his oratorical artillery, and the result was 
bravos and left-handed applause that smothered his 
batteries. Again and again he tried to proceed, but his 
voice was lost in the Clover-Club fusillade. The Chair 
was powerless. At last the speaker saw an opening and 
roared above the din, " I will now sit down, but you 
shall yet listen to me! " 

Opinions were divided as to whether the House had 
squelched the Israelitish fop, or whether the fop had 
tantalized the House into unseemliness* The young 
man needed snubbing, no doubt, but the lesson had 
been given so brutally that sympathy was with the 
snubbed. The original intent was to abash him, so he 
334 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



would break down; but this not succeeding, he had 
simply been clubbed into silence. 

Then when Disraeli refused to accept condolences 
merely waiving the whole affair and a few days after 
arose to make some trivial motion, just as though 
nothing had happened, he made friends. 
Any man who shows himself to be strong has friends 
people wish to attach themselves to such a one. 
Disraeli showed himself strong in that he held no 
resentment, and indulged in no recrimination on account 
of the treatment he had received. A weak man would 
have done one of these things: resigned his seat, 
demanded an apology from the House, or refused to let 
his voice again be heard. Disraeli did neither he con- 
tinued to speak on various occasions* and expressed 
himself so courteously, so modestly, so becomingly, 
that the members listened in awe and curiosity. Then 
soon it was discovered that beneath the mild and gentle 
ripple of his speech ran a deep current of earnest truth, 
tinged with subtle wit. When he spoke, the loungers 
came in from the cloakrooms, fearing to miss something 
that was worth while. 

The House of Commons experience taught DisraeK 
one great truth, and that was this: the most effective 
oratory is not bombastic. Among educated people (or 
illiterate) the quiet, deliberate and subdued manner is 
best. Reserve is a very necessary element in effective 
speaking. It is soul-weight that counts, not mere words* 

335 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



words, words. The extreme deliberation and compelling 
quality of quiet self-possession in Disraeli's style dated, 
according to Gladstone, from the day that Parliament 
tried to laugh him down. After that if any one wanted 
to hear him they had to corne to him, and he took good 
care that those who did come did not go away empty* 
He never explained the evident, illustrated the obvious, 
nor expatiated on the irrelevant. 

However, the motto, " Impudence rather than servil- 
ity/' was not discarded. Instead of a dashing style he 
developed a slow, subtle, scathing quality that was 
quite lost on all, save those who gave themselves to 
close listening $ And the House listened, for when 
Disraeli went after an antagonist he chose an antlered 
stag. If little men, fiercely effervescent and childishly 
inconsequential, attempted to reply to him or sought 
to engage him in debate, he simply answered them 
with silence, or that tantalizing smile. 
O'Connell and Disraeli, although unlike, had much in 
common and should have been fast friends. Surely the 
age and distinguished record of O'Connell must have 
commanded Disraeli's respect, but we know how they 
grappled in wordy warfare. Disraeli called the Irishman 
an incendiary, and O'Connell, who was a past master 
in abuse, replied in a speech wherein he exhausted the 
Billingsgate lexicon. He wound up by a reference to the 
ancestry of his opponent, and a suggestion that " this 
jenegade Jew is descended from the impenitent thief, 
336 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



whose name was doubtless Disraeli/' It was a home- 
thrust a picture so exaggerated and overdrawn that all 
England laughed. The very extravagance of the simile 
should have saved the allusion from resentment; but it 
touched Disraeli in his most sensitive spot his pride 
of birth 33 33 

He straightway challenged his traducer. O'Connell had 
killed a man in a duel years before, and then vowed 
he would never again engage in mortal combat 33 
Disraeli intimated that he would fight O'Connell's son, 
Morgan, if preferred, a man of his own age. 
Morgan replied that his father insulted so many men 
he could not set the precedent of fighting them all, or 
standing sponsor for an indiscreet parent. But with 
genuine Irish spirit he suggested that if the son of 
Abraham was intent on fight and could not be per- 
suaded to be sensible, why, the matter could probably 
be arranged. 

Happily, about this time, police officers invaded the 
apartments of Disraeli and arrested him on a bench- 
warrant. He was bound over, to his great relief, in the 
sum of five hundred pounds to keep the peace. 
O'Connell never took the matter very seriously, and 
referred soon after in a speech to " my excellent, 
though slightly bellicose friend, child of an honored 
race/' 33 33 
Disraeli did not take up politics to make money the 

man who does that may win in his desires, but his 

337 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



career is short. Nothing but honesty really succeedk 
Disraeli knew this, and in his record there is no taint. 
But the income of a member of the House of Commcms 
affords no opportunity for display. Disraeli's books 
brought him in only small sums, and his father's mod- 
erate fortune had been sadly drawn upon. He was 
well past thirty, and was not making head, simply 
because he was cramped for funds. To rise in politics 
you must have an establishment; you must entertain 
and reach out and bring those you wish to influence 
within your scope. A third floor back, in an ebb-tide 
Street, will not do. Like Agassiz, Disraeli had no time 
to make money it was a sad plight. But this was a 
man of destiny, -and to use the language of Augustine 
Birrell, " Wyndam Lewis at this time accommodatingly 
died." Mrs. Wyndam Lewis had been the firm friend 
and helper of Disraeli for many years, and although a 
small matter of fifteen years separated them as to ages, 
yet their hearts beat as one. 

Scarce a twelvemonth had gone before the widow and 
Disraeli were married. They disappeared from London 
for some months, journeying on the Continent. When 
they returned all the old scores in way of unpaid His 
against Disraeli were paid, and he was master dE an 
establishment 53 $ 

Disraeli was thirty-five, his wife was fifty, but it was 
a happy mating. They thought alike, and their ambi- 
tions were the same. Disraeli treated his wife with all 
338 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



tJie courtly grace and deference in which he was an 
adept, and her princely fortune was absolutely his. 
** There was much cause for gratitude on both sides/* 
said O'Connell. And there is no doubt that Disraeli's 
wife proved the firmest friend he ever had. For many 
years she was his sole confidante and best adviser. 
She attended him everywhere and relieved him of many 
burdens. That true incident of her fingers being crushed 
by the careless slamming of the carriage-door, and her 
hiding the bleeding members in her muff , and attending 
Ifcer husband to the House of Commons, where he was 
to speak, refusing to disturb him by her pain this 
symbols the moral quality of the woman. She was the 
fit mate of a great man, and it is pleasant to know that 
she was honored and appreciated. 



339 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




O tell the story of Disraeli's thirty years ia 
Parliament would be to write the political 
history of the time. He was in the front of 
every fight; he expressed himself on every 
subject; he crossed swords with the strongest men of 
his age. That he had no great and overpowering con- 
victions on any subject is fully admitted now, even by 
his most ardent admirers it was always a question of 
policy; that is to say, he was a politician. He gave a point 
here and there when he had to, and when he did, always 
managed to do it gracefully. When he ambled over from 
one party to another he affected a fine wrath and gave 
excellent reasons. 

Three times he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and 
twice was he Prime Minister, and for a time actual 
Dictator. But he took good care not to exercise his 
power too severely. When his word was supreme, the 
safety of the nation lay, as it always does, in a strong 
opposition 33 33 

In one notable instance was Disraeli wrong in his 
prophecies he declared again and again that Free 
Trade meant commercial bankruptcy. Yet Free Trade 
came about, and the fires were started in ten thousand 
factories, and such prosperity came to England as she 
had never known before. 

Political economy as a science was a constant butt 
for his wit, and in physical science he was dense to a 
point where his ignorance calls for pity. He believed 
340 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



in the literal Mosaic account of creation, and said in 
his paradoxical way on one occasion, that in belief he 
was not only a Christian, but a Jew, And this in spite 
of his most famous mot; "All sensible men are of one 
religion/* 33 33 
"And what is that? " 
" Sensible men never tell" 

Had Disraeli been truly sensible he would not have 
attempted to hold Charles Darwin up to ridicule, by 
declaring in a speech at Oxford that " it is a choice 
between apes and angels/' He had neither the ability, 
patience, nor inclination to read the " Origin of Species," 
and yet was so absurd as to answer it. 
In his novels of " Coningsby/' " Sybil" and "Tan- 
cred," he argues with great skill and adroit sophistry 
that a landed aristocracy is necessary to a progressive 
civilization. " The common people need an example of 
refinement in way of manners, art and intellect. Some' 
one must take the lead, and reveal the possibility of 
life in leisurely and luxurious living." And this example 
of beauty, gentleness and excellence was to come from 
the landed gentry of England ye gods! Was it possible 
that this man believed in the necessity of the gentry a& 
a virtuous example? Or did he merely view the fact 
that the aristocracy were there in actual possession, and: 
as they could not be evicted, why then the next best 
thing was to -cajole; flatter and discreetly advise , 
Who shall say what this man believed! 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Sensible men never tell. <I But this we know, this man 
had no vice but ambition. He conformed pretty closely 
to England's ideals, and his thirst for power never 
caused him to take the chances of a Waterloo. His 
novels show a close acquaintanceship with the ways of 
society, and he knew the human heart as few men ever 
do. The degradation of the average toiler in Great 
Britain, the infamy of the policy extended toward 
Ireland, and the cruelty of imperialism all these he 
knew, for his books reveal it; but he was powerless as a 
leader to stem the current of tendency. He acquiesced 
where he deemed action futile. 

" Lothair " is his best novel, for in it he gets furthest 
away from himself. It reveals a cleverness that is 
admirable, and this same brilliancy and shifty play of 
intellect are found in " Endymion," written in his 
seventy-fifth year. Whether these novels can ever take 
their place among the books that endure is a question 
that is growing more easy to answer each succeeding 
year. They owed their popularity more to their flip- 
pant cleverness than to their insight, and their vogue 
was due, to a great extent, to the veiled personalities 
that interline their pages. 

That Disraeli did not carry out all the plans and 
reforms he attempted, need not be set down to his dis- 
credit. It is fortunate he did not succeed better than 
he did. He, however, safely piloted the great s^hip in 
the direction the passengers desired to go; and his 
342 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 

own personal ambition was reached when he, a Jew at 
heart member of a despised race had made himseM 
master of the fleets, armies and treasury of the proude&f 
nation the world has ever known. 



343 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 




OUND into the life of Disraeli is a peculiar 
incident in the romantic friendship that 
existed between him and Mrs. Willyums of 
Torquay, Cornwall. About the year Eighteen 
Hundred Forty-nine, Disraeli began to receive letters 
from an unknown admirer, who expressed a great desire 
for an interview on '* a most important business/* All 
public men, especially if they have the brilliant mental 
qualities of Disraeli, receive such letters. The sensitive 
neurotic female who is ill-appreciated in her own home 
and whose soul yearns for a ** higher companionship " 
is numerous. Disraeli's secretary used to take care of 
such letters with a gentle explanation that the Chief 
was out of town, but upon his return, etc., etc., and 
that was the last of it. But this Torquay correspondent 
was insistent, and finally a letter came from her saying 
she had come to London on purpose to meet her lord 
and master, and she would await him at a seat just east 
of the fountain in Crystal Palace at a certain hour* 
Disraeli read the missive with impatience the idea of 
his meeting an unknown woman in this fishmonger 
manner at a hurdy-gurdy show! He tossed the letter 
into the fire. The next day another letter came, express- 
ing much regret that he had not kept the appointment, 
but saying she would await him at the same place the 
following day, and begging him, as the matter was very 
urgent, not to fail her. 

Disraeli smiled and showed the letter to his wife. She 
344 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



advised him to go. When his wife said he had better 
do a thing he usually did it; and so he ordered his 
carriage and went to the hurdy-gurdy show to meet the 
impressionable female of unknown age and condition 
at the seat just east of the fountain. It was a silly thing 
for the leading member of Parliament to do to make 
an assignation in a public place with a fool-woman all 
London might be laughing at him tomorrow! He was 
on the point of turning back. 

But he reached the fountain and there was his destiny 
awaiting him a little woman in widow's black. She 
lifted her veil and showed a face wrinkled and old, but 
kindly. She was agitated she really did not expect 
him and the great man gave a great sigh of relief 
when he saw that no flashily dressed creature had 
entrapped him. Even if people stared at him sitting 
there it made no difference. In pity he shook hands 
with the little old woman, sat down beside her, calmed 
her agitation, spoke of Cornwall and the weather, and 
inquired what he could do for her. A rambling talk 
about nothing followed, and Disraeli was sure it was 
just a mild case of lunacy. 

He arose to go, and the woman gave him an envelope, 
saying she had written out her case and begged him to 
read the letter when he had time. The man was pre- 
occupied, his mind on great affairs of state he simply 
crushed the letter into the side-pocket of his overcoat, 
bade the woman a dignified good-morning, and turned 

345 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



away, f It was a month before he found the letter all 
crumpled and soiled there where he had placed it. He 
really had forgotten where it came from. The envelope 
was opened and out dropped a Bank of England note 
for one thousand pounds. This note was to pay for 
certain legal advice. The advice wanted was of a trivial 
nature, and Disraeli, always conscientious in money 
matters, hastened to return the money, in person, and 
give the advice gratis. 

But the lady had had the interview two of them ami 
this was all she wanted. Letters followed, and this 
dieveloped into a daily correspondence, wherein the 
old lady revealed the story of her passion a passion 
as delicate, earnest and all-devouring as ever a girl of 
twenty knew. Insane, you say? Well, ah yes, doubt- 
less. But then, love is illusion; perhaps life is illusion, 
a very beautiful rainbow, and why old folks should 
not be allowed to chase it, or allow sweet emotion to 
gurgle gleefully under Aeir lee, a bit, as well as young 
folks, I do not know. Then, really, is love simply a 
physical manifestation and do spirits grow old? If so, 
where is our belief in the immortality of the soul? $& 
Mrs* Wiliyums was childless, had long been a widow, 
was rich, and her heart had been in the grave until she 
began to trace the record of Disraeli. She was a recluse: 
read, studied, fed on Disraeli loved him. After several 
years of dreaming and planning she had actually bagged 
the game. She was a woman of education and ideas, 
346 



BENJAMIN DISRAELI 



Her letters were interesting and Disraeli's letters to 
her,, now published, reveal the history of his daily Hfe 
as he never told it to another. At her death the bulk of 
Mrs. Willyum's fortune went by will to Disraeli. 
But Mrs, Disraeli was not jealous of this affection. 
Why should a woman of sixty be jealous of another 
woman the same age? They pooled their love and grew 
rich together in recounting it. Presents were going 
backward and forward all the time between Disraeli's 
country home and Torquay. Mrs. Willyums next came 
to live at Hughenden. There she died, and there she 
sleeps, side by side, as was her wish, with Benjamin 
Disraeli, Lord Privy Seal, Earl Beaconsfield of Beacons- 
field, Viscount Hughenden of Hughenden. And the 
reason the Ex-Premier was not buried in Westminster 
Abbey was because he had promised these two women 
that even death should not separate them from him. 
So there under the spreading elms, in this out-of-the- 
way country place, they rest these three, side by side, 
and the sighing breeze tells and tells again to the 
twittering birds in the branches, of this triple love, 
strange as fate, strong as destiny, warm as life, pure as 
snow, and unselfish as the kiss of the summer sun. 



347 



SO HERE ENDETH "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES 
OF ENGLISH AUTHORS," WHICH IS VOLUME FIVE OF 
THE SERIES OF "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES 
OF THE GREAT," AS WRITTEN BY ELBERT HUBBARD. 
THE TYPOGRAPHY, BORDERS AND INITIALS WERE 
DESIGNED BY THE ROYCROFT ARTISTS AT THEIR 
SHOPS, WHICH ARE IN EAST AURORA, NEW YORK 




126 772 



Si 
IS